Mojave Solar $1.2 Billion Loan Guarantee Done

The Obama administration has given another boost to big solar in California, finalizing the $1.2 billion federal loan guarantee for Abengoa Solar’s 250-megawatt (MW) Mojave Solar project. The financing, which had been conditionally set in June, joins a host of loan guarantees closing before the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Section 1705 program for renewable-energy development wraps up at the end of the month. The program has been under fire in the wake of the Solyndra bankruptcy.

The Mojave plant, set for about 100 northeast of Los Angeles, will use concentrating solar power (CSP) technology. Abengoa does both power tower and parabolic trough versions of CSP, but in this case it will go the trough route – and the DOE said the newest generation of this technology is easier and less expensive to build and install than the prior generation, and uses a heat-collection element that can increase thermal efficiency by up to 30 percent.

image via Agengoa

Around 900 jobs are expected to be created in building the plant, which Abengoa hopes to have operating by 2014. And there will be plenty of indirect jobs as well, the DOE suggested. It said about 80 percent of the total cost of the project – $1.6 billion, according to Abengoa – including both capital equipment and labor, will be sourced domestically. DOE said the project “will purchase all of the receiver tubes from a facility in New Mexico, the parabolic trough mirrors from a new facility in Arizona and other key equipment from different suppliers in several states across the country.”

DOE said the plant will produce electricity equivalent to that which would power 54,000 homes annually. The Northern California utility PG&E will get it, under a 25-year agreement.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

  • Mtxun

    More wasted money – I wonder what Obysmal’s rate of return in donations to his reelection campaign was for this cash out-pouring?

  • When you look at the math of this, the interest and principal on 1.6 billion is over 25 years is 100 million per year give or take. Divide that by 50000 households put the cost of providing energy to each household at $2000 per year. nnOne has to wonder if the people who voted for Governor Moonbeam realize how he and his buddies are going to impact their power bills.

    • Analytic

      It’s actually worse. u00a0The $1.6 billion is capital to build the plant. u00a0This is $29,629 per house – up front – for future electricity. u00a0Additionally, there is the operating budget, which is not mentioned in the article. u00a0You can be sure that the Obama Administration is promoting this as “renewable” with no significant operating costs. u00a0But all of that equipment is exposed to the elements. u00a0Think of the damage to a car that sits for 25 years in the desert. u00a0We can expect that most of this equipment will be repaired or replaced over 25 years. u00a0And since its replaced on an ad hoc basis, rather than as one large integrate project, the repair/replacement costs will exceed the original capital costs. u00a0If this was such a hot investment, private capital would already be available. u00a0They need government loan guarantees because any realistic projection of future cash flow would show costs vastly exceeding income.