DOE Greenlights $4.8 Billion in Solar Loan Guarantees



Friday marked the end of the beleaguered Department of Energy 1705 loan guarantee program. Section 1705 of the EPAct was a temporary program designed to assist renewable energy, power transmission, and biofuel projects. The program had been under scrutiny after lending to the Solyndra solar corporation which is currently under investigation for declaring bankruptcy just days after securing more than $500 million in loans. In spite of this the program is going out with a bang and four solar projects are receiving finalization of loan guarantees totaling $4.8 billion.

Partial guarantees were made on the order of $1.4 billion to Project Amp and $1.46 billion to the 550MW Desert Sunlight Project. Full guarantees were made to the 250MW California Valley Solar Ranch project for $1.24 billion and the 230MW Antelope Valley Solar Ranch project for $646 million. These loan guarantees come on the heels of denials and push backs due to the ongoing investigation into the program which the DOE stated has caused additional paperwork and overhead. “We are confident that supporting these projects will help American companies compete in the global clean energy market,” said a DOE spokesman.

Project Amp plans to add 752MW of photovoltaic capacity in the form of distributed roof top solar installations in 28 states across the US and District of Columbia. Electricity produced by the solar panels would be connected directly to the electrical grid. Estimates suggest that over 1,000 jobs will be created over the 4 year installation and development timeline.

Desert Sunlight Project consists of two separate solar facilities with 250MW and 300MW capacity respectively. Once finished the combined project will be one of the world’s largest photovoltaic plants. Located in Riverside County, California, USA the construction and development is being handled by First Solar and NextEra Energy. Power produced by the 300MW facility will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric with the 250MW plant selling energy to Southern California Edison.

California Valley Solar Ranch is expected to be the largest utility scale photovoltaic project undertaken in the United States. Plans include 250MW of alternating current photovoltaic technology to be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric. Additionally single axis trackers will be controlled via a wireless monitoring and control system which should boost output by 25% annually compared to fixed installations and allow the panels to be shielded from dust storms or other weather events that are responsible for increased maintenance.

Antelope Valley Solar Ranch is a proposed 230MW alternating current thin film (CdTe) solar plant located in North Los Angeles County, California, USA. This project will be the first to use First Solar’s FS Series 3 PV Module which should enhance monitoring and power regulation. Power generated is under contract to be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric.

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