The U.S. Department of Energy offered a conditional commitment for a $2.1 billion loan guarantee to Solar Trust of America, LLC to support construction of two 242 megawatt (MW) concentrated solar thermal power plants.
As the largest solar project in the world, it would create over 1000 solar jobs and billions of dollars in private investment to California.
The two plants constitute the first phase of Solar Trust's 1,000 MW Blythe Solar Power Project currently under development in Riverside County, California.
The completed 1,000 MW facility will deliver almost 10% of the federal Energy Policy Act of 2005's 10 Gigawatt goal for renewable energy generation on public lands by 2015.
The conditional commitment marks a critical financial milestone in the realization of the Blythe project.
This first phase of the Blythe Solar Power Project is expected to create a total of 7,500 construction, operations and supply chain jobs throughout the United States, including more than 1,000 direct construction jobs in Riverside County, where the December 2010 unemployment rate was 14.2%.
The Blythe Solar Power Project will use parabolic trough concentrating solar thermal technology, which uses large mirrors to reflect the sun's heat onto tubes of oil which then boil water in a closed system. The steam generated turns turbines to create electricity, and most of the water is recycled back into the system.
The facility is dry-cooled using large fans, and consumes 90% less water than a traditional wet-cooled solar facility of this size. Each 242 MW unit is expected to use as much water as a typical municipal golf course.