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DOE Finalizes $1.2 Billion Loan Guarantee for Mojave Solar Project

September 16, 2011

On September 13, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) announced that it has finalized a $1.2 billion loan guarantee for the Mojave Solar Project (MSP) in California. The loan recipient, Mojave Solar, LLC, will use the loan to develop the 250-megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in San Bernardino County. Abengoa Solar Inc., the project sponsor, estimates it will fund more than 830 construction jobs and 70 operating jobs.

DOE offered the conditional loan guarantee in June, at the same time it made a similar offer to NextEra Energy Resources, LLC, for $681.6 million. That loan guarantee, yet to be finalized, is for another 250-MW CSP plant called the Genesis Solar Project. Genesis will be located on land managed by the Bureau of Land Management in Riverside County, California. NextEra estimates that project will create approximately 800 construction jobs and 47 operating jobs.

The combined capacity of MSP and Genesis is expected to double the nation's installed CSP capacity and displace a total of 40 percent of the output from a typical 500-MW coal-fired plant.

MSP will be the nation’s first utility-scale deployment of Abengoa’s Solar Collector Assembly (SCA). The assembly was originally developed with assistance from DOE’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy, and the newest version of the SCA has a number of advanced features, including a lighter, stronger frame that holds parabolic mirrors that are easier and less expensive to build and install. The new heat collection element increases thermal efficiency by up to 30% more than first-generation CSP plants. In addition, the advanced mirror technology will improve reflectivity and accuracy. Unlike older CSP plants, MSP will operate without fossil fuel back-up systems for generation during low solar resource periods.

The project will avoid more than 350,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually and is anticipated to generate enough electricity to power more than 54,000 homes. An estimated 80 percent of total costs, including both capital equipment and labor, are expected to be sourced in the United States. The plant will purchase all of the receiver tubes from a facility in New Mexico, the parabolic trough mirrors from a new facility in Arizona, and other key equipment from different suppliers in several states across the country. Mojave Solar has signed a power purchase agreement with PG&E, one of the country’s largest electric utilities, to sell the energy produced by MSP for 25 years.

The Genesis Solar Project will feature proven and scalable parabolic trough solar thermal technology that has been used commercially for more than two decades. The project is expected to avoid more than 320,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually and produce enough electricity to power more than 48,000 homes. Power from the project will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric Company. The lender-applicant, Credit Suisse AG, submitted the application under the Financial Institution Partnership Program.

In announcing the finalization of the MSP loan guarantee, U.S. Secretary of Energy Steven Chu said that investments in such solar generation facilities “are critical to our effort to create good, clean energy jobs in America and compete with countries like China in the global clean energy race.”

For more information, see the June 14 and September 13 articles published on the DOE website.

—Karen Atkison