DOE’s Solar Thermal Technology Bet

To promote solar power development, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) funded the early research 40 years ago at Sandia Laboratories that created concentrating solar power (CSP) technology. A few scaled-up plants were built in California in the 1980s. Then nothing much happened for 25 years until 2009 when the Obama Admininstration funded a Bush-era program to promote renewable energy.  In rapid order, DOE signed the loan guarantees that were used by developers to finance five utility-scale CSP plants, sized from 110 Mw to 392 Mw.

There was only one modern CSP plant operating in the U.S. at the time, the 70-Mw Nevada Solar One project completed  by Acciona Energy in 2007 for $270-million. It was financed by Spanish banks without federal loan guarantees.

DOE’s first loan guarantee went to Abengoa to built its $2-billion Solana plant at a 1,900-acre site near Gila Bend, Ariz. . . .


About Bill Reinhardt

Editor of Public Works Financing newsletter
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