The US Department of Energy (DOE) last week offered of a conditional commitment for a $359.1 million loan guarantee to a first-of-its-kind photovoltaic (PV) solar project in Arizona.
The 150 megawatts (MW) Mesquite Solar project will be one of the first large-scale PV power plants in the U.S. to use U.S.-made transformerless, liquid cooled inverter technology.
Inverters are the electrical components that change the direct current (DC) produced by solar panels into alternating current (AC) which is fed into the grid and used by devices in businesses and homes.
DOE says the new inverter technology allows for significant improvements in energy output and a decrease in operating costs and improved reliability.
The project is sponsored by Sempra Generation (NYSE: SRE) and will be located in Maricopa County, Arizona, approximately 45 miles west of Phoenix. Sempra estimates the project will create up to 300 construction jobs and 7-10 full time operating solar energy jobs.
The first phase of the Mesquite solar project will use panels made by Suntech (NYSE: STP) at its Goodyear, Arizona plant--just 30 miles away.
The facility will avoid the emissions of over 193,000 metric tons of carbon annually, equivalent to the emissions of over 38,000 vehicles. The project is anticipated to generate nearly 350,000 megawatt hours of electricity in the first full year of production, or enough to power over 31,000 homes. Power from the project will be sold to Pacific Gas & Electric Company.