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DOE Funds Huge Solar Project

Loan guarantees will help finance 400 megawatts of solar power.
February 23, 2010

The U.S. Department of Energy has announced a $1.37 billion conditional loan guarantee for the Ivanhoe Solar Complex in the Mojave Desert. The project, managed by Brightsource Energy, will use mirrors to concentrate sunlight, creating high temperatures that can be used to generate electricity. The complex will include three power plants that together will produce about 400 megawatts of electricity.

Basically, the guarantees would cover the loans in the case of default. The money for the loans is expected to come from the Federal Financing Bank.

One of the biggest challenges that large solar developments face is getting financing, particularly because few such solar power plants have been built. The DOE guarantees help on this front.

But other challenges remain, including getting approval from the government to actually build on the chosen sites, and clearing the National Environmental Policy Act review. The application process for the plants started nearly 3 years ago, and construction on the sites has already been delayed. Before the process is over, new hurdles might get thrown up, a possibility illustrated recently when Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) submitted legislation to ban solar projects from some parts of the Mojave desert, a move that threatened several projects already in the works.

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