Central Arizona‘s construction industry is about to get a boost–not from rebounding home sales, but from a massive 290 megawatt (MW) capacity photovoltaic solar generating facility in Yuma County expected to create 400 construction jobs. The project’s sponsor, NRG Solar, estimates that, upon completion, this project will constitute the largest solar electricity facility in the world.
The Agua Caliente Solar Project was recently approved for a conditional loan guarantee of up to $967 million by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE). In announcing the loan, Secretary of Energy Steven Chu highlighted projects like Agua Caliente as helping the U.S. to compete globally for clean energy jobs.
“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 Senior Vice President of Project Development, North America, in a statement. The project was initiated by First Solar–which will be supplying thin film solar panels for the project–before it was obtained by NRG Solar.
The peak power output of the Agua Caliente Project is expected to coincide with peak power demand in the greater Phoenix area, due to the demand placed by air-conditioning on the local grid. The company anticipates the project will avoid approximately 237,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to taking over 40,000 cars off the road annually. In addition, at full capacity, NRG estimates the project will have the potential to provide electricity for approximately 100,000 homes.