Solar Power Plant Gets $90.6M Federal Loan

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) is once again reaching into its deep pockets to support a utility-scale solar project. This time, the DOE is providing a $90.6 million conditional loan guarantee to Colorado-based Cogentrix of Alamosa for a planned high concentration solar photovoltaic (HCPV) project that is meant to be installed near the city of Alamosa in south-central Colorado.

The solar facility has an expected net capacity of 30 megawatts. Cogentrix estimates the project will create about 75 construction jobs and 10 operations jobs while sourcing over 80 percent of project components domestically. When complete, the facility should be capable of generating approximately 75,000 megawatt hours of clean renewable energy per year, which the DOE says is enough to power over 6,500 homes, while avoiding over 43,000 tons of CO2 per year.

parabolic trough, concentrating solar power (CSP)

image via California Energy Commission

The HCPV system that will be used for the project involves optics that intensely focus sunlight on solar cells. The panels are controlled by a dual-axis tracking system that maximizes sun exposure by following the sun across the sky during the course of the day. According to Cogentrix, the multi-junction solar cells that will be used for the project are nearly 40 percent efficient or about double that of more traditional PV panels used in areas with high amounts of direct sunlight.

The DOE says that it has issued loans, loan guarantees or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees totaling over $30 billion to support 28 clean energy projects across the U.S. Twelve of the DOE- funded energy generation projects reportedly crank out 25 million megawatt-hours annually. Including the Alamosa Solar Generating Project, the DOE has now committed over $7.5 billion in loan guarantees to solar generation projects including the Ivanpah solar facility, the Agua Caliente solar project and the Big Blythe solar project.