Obama gives solar power a big boost

On July 3, 2010, President Obama announced that the Department of Energy is awarding $2 billion in loan guarantees for two solar power projects, as part of the Recovery Act of February 2009.

The first award is to the Spanish company Abengoa Solar , which has agreed to build one of the largest solar plants in the world in Arizona—the Solana Generating Station—which will create about 1,600 construction jobs. Over 70 percent of the components and products used in construction will be manufactured in the USA, boosting jobs and communities in states up and down the supply chain. When completed in 2013, the plant will generate enough energy to power 70,000 homes, while avoiding over 400,000 tons of greenhouse gases that would otherwise contribute to global warming

The plant will employ a proprietary concentrating solar power (CSP) trough technology developed by Abengoa, and will cover an area of 1,900 acres. Once completed, the plant will employ 85 full-time workers. Solar thermal plants use substantially more water for cooling than other thermal-generating technologies. Nevertheless, the Sierra Club supports the Solana plant, because it will be built on private land, and use 75 to 85 percent less water than current agricultural use.

The second award is to Abound Solar Manufacturing, which will manufacture advanced thin-film solar panels at two new plants, creating more than 2,000 construction jobs and 1,500 permanent jobs. A Colorado plant is already underway, and an Indiana plant will be built in what’s now an empty Chrysler factory.

When fully operational, these plants will produce millions of state-of-the-art solar panels each year.

When he announced the awards, President Obama said:

We’re going to keep fighting to advance our recovery. We’re going to keep competing aggressively to make sure the jobs and industries of the future are taking root right here in America.

That’s one of the reasons why we’re accelerating the transition to a clean energy economy and doubling our use of renewable energy sources like wind and solar power— steps that have the potential to create whole new industries and hundreds of thousands of new jobs in America.

A fact sheet on both projects can be downloaded here.