Energy Dept. plans $1.4 billion loan guarantee for big desert solar project

The project is comprised of three separate plants. BrightSource hopes to start building the first plant later this year and bring it on-line in 2012. The other two are slated to begin operation the following year, DoE said.

The Ivanpah Solar Complex, once built, will almost double the amount of solar thermal power produced in the U.S. today, the company and DoE said. Solar thermal projects use mirrors or lenses to concentrate sunlight and transform it into heat.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) likes the project.

“As home to some of the world’s best solar fields and the nation’s largest green economy, it is no surprise the world’s largest solar energy project would choose California,” he said in a prepared statement. He credited state policies with “promoting the growth of clean, reliable energy in our communities and growing green jobs up and down the state.”

The loan guarantees will be issued under a program authorized in a 2005 energy bill aimed at supporting various low-emissions technologies.

The program was slow to get off the ground but DoE began issuing loan guarantee commitments last year. The administration last week announced $8.3 billion in conditional guarantees for the utility Southern Company to build two planned nuclear reactors in Georgia.