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Obama Announces Nearly $2 billion for Solar Power

The money is part of loan guarantees administered by the Department of Energy.

Over the weekend, President Obama announced two massive loan guarantees meant to promote solar power manufacturing in the United States. The guarantees will make it easier for the projects to raise financing.

One project, which involves a guarantee for a $400 million loan, is for the start-up Abound Solar Manufacturing, based in Loveland, CO, which has developed a new method for manufacturing cadmium telluride solar panels, the most successful type of “thin-film” solar panel on the market today. (Last year First Solar, a cadmium telluride solar manufacturer, produced more watts of solar panels than any other solar company.) The money is for two factories, one in Colorado and another in Indiana.

The second guarantee, for a $1.45 billion loan, is for the Spanish company Abengoa to build a large 250 megawatt solar power plant that will use parabolic mirrors to concentrate heat from the sun, which will then be used to make steam and drive turbines. The press release accompanying the announcement takes pains to note that the project will create manufacturing jobs in the United States, not just in Spain. It says that “over 70 percent of the components and products” will be made in the United States. Building the plant will employ 1,600 workers in Arizona, and drive the construction of a new mirror manufacturing plant near Phoenix, but the finished power plant will only provide 80 permanent jobs.

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