Rooftop Solar Gets Big Fat Public/Private Payday

We’ve long noted solar rooftop projects, especially ones across the many warehouses and similar facilities in places like New Jersey, hold strong potential for simple solar panel installation and clean energy potential. The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), Bank of America and a grouping of other companies seem to feel the same way, announcing today funding and plans for Project Amp, a massive, never before done undertaking for the large scale installation of solar panels on industrial buildings across the country.

The DOE, in a fresh and minty announcement today, said it is offering a a conditional commitment to provide a partial guarantee for a $1.4 billion loan for the project. Project Amp will enable a wide distribution of solar power over approximately 750 existing rooftops owned and managed by Prologis, a developer of industrial real estate. The approximately 733 megawatts (MW) of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels being spread across these rooftops will feed directly to the electrical grid, as opposed to powering the buildings where they are installed.

Portland Solar Rooftop

image via Portland General Electric

It is said the clean solar energy coming from this project is nearly equal to the total amount of PV installed in the U.S. in 2010. 1,000 green jobs at least reportedly will be created over a four year period. NRG Energy is said as well to be the lead investor for the first phase of the project, which will “utilize at least 90 percent U.S. sourced components.  The power from Phase 1 will be sold to Southern California Edison.  Additional installations will be built in up to 28 states and the District of Columbia.”

Bank of America Merrill Lynch, which submitted the application for the funding as the lender-applicant, said for its part that the “loan guarantee supporting $1.4 billion of debt facilitates” is a total project size of about $2.6 billion, which is being financed entirely by the private sector over the next four years. Interestingly, BofA said Project Amp will create the equivalent of more than 10,000 full-year jobs, which is an interesting twist on the green jobs math the DOE spelled out.

Project Amp is expected to produce up to one million megawatt hours annually, enough to power over 88,000 homes. At this level, the DOE said, the project is also expected to avoid approximately 580,000 tons of carbon pollution annually.

Between this announcement and the one covered earlier today about Google and Citi investing into big wind, there’s no doubt about it – public/private partnerships in clean energy are making ideal sense right now to help stimulate the economy and push us towards a greener energy tomorrow.

I am the editor-in-chief and founder for EarthTechling. This site is my desire to bring the world of green technology to consumers in a timely and informative matter. Prior to this my previous ventures have included a strong freelance writing career and time spent at Silicon Valley start ups.