DOE offers $2.1B conditional commitment loan guarantee to support California solar thermal power plant

The US Department of Energy (DOE) is offering a conditional commitment for a $2.1 billion loan guarantee to support Units 1 and 2 of the Blythe Solar Power Project, sponsored by Solar Trust of America, LLC. The concentrating solar thermal power plant includes two units comprising a combined 484 megawatt (MW) generating capacity, an eight-mile transmission line and associated infrastructure.

The project will be built adjacent to the City of Blythe in Riverside County, California and is expected to create over 1,000 construction jobs and approximately 80 operations jobs. The plant is estimated to avoid over 710,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from over 123,000 vehicles.

Units 1 and 2 of the Blythe project represent the first phase of a larger project that, when completed, will generate 1,000 MW of solar power using parabolic trough technology. Units 1 and 2 will include HelioTrough collectors, which feature a larger yet simplified design, making them less expensive to build and install, and more efficient than earlier trough technology.

The project will be the first concentrating solar power (CSP) parabolic trough plant to use an air-cooled condenser unit, which will decrease water use by nearly 90% compared with a water-cooled CSP facility. The project will sell all of its electricity output to Southern California Edison and will deliver power into the California Independent System Operator (CAISO) power grid.

The Department of Energy, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling more than $21 billion to support 22 clean energy projects across 14 states. The program’s 11 generation projects will produce nearly 25 million megawatt-hours annually, enough to power more than two million homes.

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