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DOE backs large PV solar project in Yuma

January 21st, 2011

From Green Right Now Reports

The U.S. Department of Energy smiled upon another big solar project this week, announcing conditional loan guarantees of nearly $1 billion for the Agua Caliente Solar LLC project in Yuma County, Arizona.

NRG Solar is a major developer of photovoltaic power stations in the Southwest.

The 290 megawatt project will be the largest photovoltaic generation facility in  the world, according to its owner, NRG Solar of Carlsbad, Calif.

The project is projected to create 400 initial construction jobs, and at full capacity will power about 100,000 homes with emissions-free electricity.

It will avert some 237,000 metric tons of greenhouse gases every year, the equivalent of taking 40,000 cars of the road annually, according to DOE.

“Solar projects like this are helping the U.S. to compete globally for the clean energy jobs of today and the future,” said  Energy Secretary Steven Chu, in a news release. “The Obama Administration is committed to bringing innovative renewable energy technologies to the market to support the country’s transition to a clean energy economy.” The DOE has guaranteed up to $967 million in financing for the project.

DOE reports that the new facility will use “fault ride-through and dynamic voltage regulation” — technologies that improve the predictability and reliability of solar power generation.

A spokesman for First Solar, which is supplying the PV panels, explained that these technologies will ease acceptance of solar power onto the grid.

“As a large, grid-connected power source, Agua Caliente is expected to be the first U.S. utility-scale PV power plant to feature these technologies,” said Alan Bernheimer, a spokesman for Oakland-based First Solar Inc. The size of the project will be ground-breaking as well, exceeding the largest currently operating PV power plant, the 80 MW Sarnia plant, completed by First Solar last year.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company plans to buy the power from the project, selling it to California customers.

NRG Solar, a subsidiary of NRG Energy, is known for operating the Blythe Solar Project in Riverside County, currently the largest PV commercial scale facility in California.

To read about more DOE-backed renewable energy projects, see the DOE loan programs website.

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