The U.S. Department of Energy has finalized a guarantee to provide a loan of $1.45 billion to Abengoa Solar Inc. which will fund the world’s largest parabolic trough concentrating solar plant. The plant is expected to serve 70,000 households and avoid 475,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year.
The plant, called Solana, will be located in Arizona and will be the first large-scale operation capable of storing the energy it produces. It will also create up to 1,700 new jobs.
“As the world’s largest solar plant of its kind, the Abengoa’s Solana project is playing an important role in creating jobs and clean energy for Arizona as well as fostering innovation in the U.S.,” said Energy Secretary Steven Chu. “As today’s announcement and other recent announcements of completed loan guarantees for wind and solar projects demonstrate, the Department’s loan program is gaining momentum, creating jobs in communities across the country while putting us on the path to a clean energy future.”
Solana Generating Station, Gila Bend Arizona. Photo by Business Wire
The Solana plant will use 900,000 parabolic mirrors to focus solar energy on a heat transfer fluid which can reach a temperature of 735F. Electricity is produced when the heat from the fluid is transferred to water, creating steam which is used power conventional steam turbines. The heat energy in the fluid can also be stored for use at a later time.
The loan is part of the Department of Energy’s clean energy initiative which has contributed $16.5 billion in loans and grants to 16 clean energy projects. In total the projects are expected to produce over 37 million megawatt-hours of energy, enough to power over 3.3 million homes.