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. . . .