US government backs Abengoa’s solar project with $1.2 billion loan guarantee

Abengoa's exiting Solana facility

Despite the high-profile failure of solar developer Solyndra earlier this month, Abengoa has successfully secured a $1.2 billion loan guarantee from the US government to move ahead with Mojave Solar Project.

The 280 MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant will cost an estimated $1.6 billion in total and should be completed in 2014. The Department of Energy (DOE) offered a loan guarantee earlier this summer.

Construction has already started on the project, which is located 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles near Barstow, California.

Once operational the plant will generate enough power for more than 54,000 households and will prevent the emission of over 350,000 metric tons of CO2 a year. One of the largest utilities in the US, Pacific Gas & Electric, has agreed a 25-year power purchase agreement, which is awaiting official confirmation.

Abengoa has also just started operations at the first of two CSP plants in southern Spain, which it has built jointly with Germany energy company E.ON.

Helioenergy 1 and Helioenergy 2, which will come online later this year, will produce enough power from 121,000 mirrors spread over 220 hectares to supply 52,000 households.

The DOE has also finalised a $90.6 million loan guarantee to Cogentrix for the 30 MW Alamosa Solar Generating Project in Colorado.

The high concentration photovoltaic (HCPV) facility, which uses concentrating optics and multi-junction solar cell panels controlled by a dual-axis tracking system, will produce enough power for 6500 homes and avoid 43,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions a year.

A $150 million loan guarantee has also been granted to 1366 Technologies to develop a multicrystalline wafer manufacturing project that could reduce the costs of solar manufacturing.

The innovative process could produce 700-1000 MW of silicon-based wafers a year at half the usual cost. The first phase of the project will be carried out at the company’s facility in Lexington, Massachusetts, but 1366 Technologies is looking for other sites for the next phase.

Meanwhile, Greece has unveiled a plan to increase its installed solar capacity to 2.2 GW by 2020 and 10 GW by 2050, according to Reuters.

The financially troubled nation hopes to attract up to €20 billion in investment through the ‘Project Helios’ plan.

While Greece has sunshine for an average 300 days a year and receives 50% more solar radiation that European solar champion Germany, it has a mere 200 MW already installed.

And further afield, Australia’s first utility-scale solar power project is under way in Western Australian.

The First Solar project, which is being backed by Verve Energy, GE Energy Financial Services and the Western Australian Government, will see a 10 MW facility built on 80 hectares of land 50 km southeast of Geraldton.

The output from the Greenough River Solar Farm, which is expected to be operational mid-next year, will be bought by the WA Water Corporation, which is building a new Southern Seawater Desalination Plant.

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Related stories:
US government-backed solar company Solyndra fails (5-Sept)
US confirms $967 million loan guarantee for solar project (10-Aug)
Fotowatio solar project near Las Vegas secures $45.6 million US government loan (3-Jun)
More US government loans for solar power (31-May)

19 September 2011