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President Obama announces almost $2 billion for 2 solar projects

July 6th, 2010

From Green Right Now Reports

President Obama has announced a conditional $1.45 billion loan guarantee to Abengoa Solar Inc. to finance the construction and start-up of a one of the world’s largest solar power facilities. The Solana, Ariz., plant will add 250 megawatts of capacity to the electrical grid. In addition, the Department of Energy said it will offer a loan guarantee of $400 million to Abound Solar Manufacturing, LLC to manufacture state-of-the-art thin-film solar panels.

Once operational, the Solana project is expected to supply clean electric power to approximately 70,000 homes, reducing overall CO2 emissions by 475,000 tons.  Electricity from the project will be sold through a long-term power purchase agreement with Arizona Public Service Company.  Abengoa Solar, a Spanish company with U.S. headquarters in Denver, estimates that the Solana project will employ 1,600 workers during the construction phase of the project and create over 80 skilled permanent jobs for the plant’s operation.

“After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it’s good news that we’ve attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America,” President Obama said during his weekly radio address.

Over 70 percent of the components and products used for Solana will be made in the United States. Two assembly factories will be constructed on the Solana site, and as a result of the project’s large need for mirrors — more than 900,000 — a new mirror manufacturing facility will be sited just outside of the Phoenix area, contributing additional direct investment and adding more jobs to Arizona’s economy.

Solana will employ solar trough technology using parabolic shaped glass mirrors that direct sunlight onto receiver tubes that heat the fluid inside to over 700 degrees Fahrenheit. The heat is then used to turn steam turbines. The project also includes a thermal energy storage system that will allow Solana to produce electricity after the sun has set.

When fully operational, officials said Abound Solar Manufacturing will produce millions of solar panels annually.  The panels can be produced at a lower cost than crystalline silicon modules.  Upon completion, the project will be able to manufacture enough panels each year to support up to 840 megawatts of new solar power annually.  The project is expected to reach full capacity by 2013.

Government officials said this will be the first time this new manufacturing technology for Cadmium-Telluride panels is deployed commercially anywhere in the world.  The project includes two facilities, one in Longmont, Colo., and the other in Tipton, Ind.  The Indiana facility will occupy a new factory originally constructed for a Chrysler auto parts supplier that was never able to move in due to the economic downturn.  The company anticipates that the project will create approximately 2,000 jobs during construction and 1,500 permanent jobs.

“This project is yet another example what the Recovery Act has done in communities across the country in creating the new, clean energy jobs of the future,” Energy Secretary Steven Chu said in a statement.  “By supporting new cutting-edge solar manufacturing technologies, we are advancing a diverse renewable energy portfolio while helping to position the U.S. at the forefront of the global green economy.”

The company will use proprietary manufacturing technology developed jointly by Colorado State University, the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the National Science Foundation.  It will produce photovoltaic panels using an innovative process in which thin films of Cadmium-Telluride are deposited onto the glass panels.  The technology offers numerous improvements over existing manufacturing methods and reduces overall product costs, officials said.  The processes also are expected to create significant enhancements in film quality, device efficiency and stability, and product yield.

Including the latest announcements, the Department of Energy has issued conditional commitments for loan guarantees to support 13 clean energy projects. The Solana project will bring the total amount of concentrating solar power supported by the Department to nearly 650 megawatts.

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