US DOE Offers Abengoa Solar a Conditional Commitment for $1.45B Loan Guarantee for Concentrating Solar Power Plant

President Obama announced in his weekly video address on 3 July that DOE has offered a conditional commitment for a $1.45 billion loan guarantee to Abengoa Solar, Inc. The loan will support the construction and start-up of Solana, a 250 net megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power (CSP) plant in Arizona—the largest CSP plant worldwide to-date.

Solana will include six hours of molten salt thermal energy storage capability, which will allow energy to be dispatched as needed during cloudy periods and after sunset. With this capability, Solana will be able to generate electricity well into the evening to help meet the summer peak demand. The plant will be located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, near Gila Bend, Arizona.

The plant’s rows of mirrors, thermal storage, generating equipment and service areas will cover nearly three square miles. Two 140-megawatt steam generators will produce 900,000 megawatt hours of electricity each year. Operating at full capacity Solana produces enough electricity to power 70,000 Arizona homes. The plant will be operational in 2011.

DOE’s Title XVII Loan Guarantee Program was created to support the deployment of innovative clean energy technologies pursuant to Section 1703 of Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Title XVII). Title XVII of the Energy Policy Act of 2005 was amended by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 to create Section 1705, a new program for the deployment of renewable energy and electric power transmission projects. Solana is eligible for a loan guarantee under both sections of Title XVII.

Recently, DOE conducted an Environmental Assessment study and issued a finding of no significant impact (FONSI) for the project.

Abengoa Solar signed a power purchase agreement with APS, the state’s largest electric utility, to sell the energy produced by Solana for a period of 30 years.

Abengoa Solar has made it a priority to utilize US-made components wherever possible for the Solana plant. More than 75% of the equipment and supplies required to build Solana will be manufactured in the US These include steam generators, heat exchangers, power equipment, glass, steel, concrete and other construction materials.

In late 2009 Abengoa Solar signed a power purchase agreement in California to supply electricity generated by a 250 MW CSP trough plant located in the Mojave Desert, 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles. The company also has several projects under development in the Southwest. Abengoa Solar is currently building 350 MW of solar plants worldwide, and with an additional 142 MW already operating, it is the only company worldwide building and operating both trough and power tower CSP plants. The Solana plant will be Abengoa Solar’s tenth CSP plant worldwide.


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