4 February 2011

DOE offers loan guarantee for 290MW First Solar-built Arizona PV project

Last month, Energy Secretary Steven Chu announced the US Department of Energy’s offer of a conditional commitment for a loan guarantee of up to $967m to Agua Caliente Solar LLC, a 290MW solar project in Yuma County, AZ acquired by power generation firm NRG Energy Inc of Princeton, NJ in December from First Solar Inc of Tempe, AZ, which makes thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules based on cadmium telluride (CdTe) as well as providing engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) services.

The loan guarantee will support the facility’s construction, which began last year and is expected to be complete by 2014 (creating 400 construction jobs). The plant will use CdTe PV panels made by First Solar. NRG Solar estimates that, when completed, the project will be the world's largest photovoltaic generation facility.

“The public–private partnership between NRG Solar, First Solar and the Department of Energy will be instrumental in adding an unprecedented amount of emission-free solar power to America’s energy portfolio,” said Tom Doyle, president of NRG Energy subsidiary NRG Solar LLC.

“The DOE Loan Programs Office is important to enabling the deployment of utility-scale renewable energy resources such as Agua Caliente, supporting financing terms commensurate with the long-lived nature of a photovoltaic solar power plant,” said Frank De Rosa, First Solar’s senior VP of Project Development, North America. “These cost advantages allow renewable energy sources to scale faster towards grid parity,” he added.

“Solar projects like this are helping the US to compete globally for the clean energy jobs of today and the future,” said Chu. “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.”

NRG expects the project to offset about 237,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year (equivalent to taking more than 40,000 cars off the road annually). Also, at full capacity, the project should provide electricity for about 100,000 homes.

The Agua Caliente Solar project will deploy fault ride-through and dynamic voltage regulation, technologies that are new to solar power plants in the USA. These technologies should improve the reliability and predictability of electricity generated by solar power plants and supplied to the grid. Under a 25-year power purchase agreement, Pacific Gas & Electric Company will deliver electricity generated by the project to consumers in California.

The Department of Energy, through the Loan Programs Office, has issued loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling more than $17bn to support 17 clean energy projects, which together will produce more than 37 million MW-hrs (sufficient to power about 3.5 million homes).

Tags: First Solar Thin-film photovoltaic CdTe

Visit: http://lpo.energy.gov

Visit: www.nrgenergy.com

Visit: www.firstsolar.com

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