Back in September 2010 the Genesis Solar Project, a parabolic trough concentrating solar power (CSP) facility, was approved by the California Energy Commission. Then, in November, the project earned approval from the U.S. Department of the Interior (because it was being developed on federal lands). Now, U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu recently announced that the DOE has finalized a partial guarantee for an $852 million loan–bringing the Genesis Solar Project one step closer to breaking ground on nearly 1,950 acres of public land in Riverside County, California.
Once complete, the 250-megawatt (MW) project will increase the nation’s installed CSP capacity by 50%. The DOE emphasizes that loan guarantee will “support a utility-scale deployment of proven and scalable parabolic trough solar thermal technology that has been used commercially for more than two decades.” (This stands in contrast to the gigantic Blythe solar power project, which recently ditched the DOE’s loan guarantee offer in favor of a commercial loan so it could use PV technology.)
The facility is expected to produce enough electricity to power over 48,000 homes, and avoid over 320,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually. Power from the project will be sold to Pacific Gas and Electric. Project developer NextEra Energy Resources estimates that it will create approximately 800 construction jobs and 47 operating jobs.
The project is being financed by lender-applicant Credit Suisse AG, under the DOE Financial Institution Partnership Program (FIPP). Since 2009, the Department of Energy’s loan guarantee programs have supported 42 clean energy projects across the U.S., including commitments of over $12 billion in loan guarantees to solar generation projects. Unfortunately, not all have met with success.