President Obama, in his weekly presidential address (you can watch it below if you like) over the 4th of July weekend, announced the federal government would be awarding nearly $2 billion in conditional investments to two very lucky solar companies. The monies, coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, reflect a strong passion by the current U.S. administration that clean energy holds a strong potential in the country’s economic recovery.
It was specifically mentioned that Abengoa Solar will be awarded a $1.45 billion loan guarantee to build in Arizona one of the world’s largest solar generation plants called Solona. This plant will be the first large scale solar plant of its kind in the United States, capable of supplying power for nearly 70,000 homes and removing the equivalent CO2 emissions of over 90,000 cars a year when it becomes operational by mid 2013. It is believed the project will create around 1,600 construction jobs and that over 70 percent of the components needed for its building will be manufactured domestically, contributing an estimated $1.1 billion to the U.S. economy.
Another $400 million is also being awarded to Abound Solar Manufacturing. Abound will be building two solar plants to manufacture thin-film solar panels needed for solar energy harvesting. One existing plant in Colorado will be expanded, while a new one will be opened from the shell of an old Chrysler supplier factory in Indiana. It is estimated 2,000 construction jobs will be created and that by 2013 these plants will be able to support the production of enough panels to produce 840 megawatts of solar power yearly, which would be able to power more than 200,000 homes.
These commitments, according to the White House [PDF], represent the 12th and 13th conditional commitments for loan guarantees issued by the Department of Energy, for a total of $14.8 billion in loans to support $22.4 billion in job-creating clean energy projects. “By supporting new cutting-edge solar manufacturing technologies,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu in a statement after the President’s weekly address, “we are advancing a diverse renewable energy portfolio while helping to position the U.S. at the forefront of the global green economy.”