U.S. President Barack Obama’s renewable energy plans received a substantial boost recently when the federal government announced that it had designated an array of new solar energy development areas, created a US$50 million fund to advance solar energy innovation, and had finalized a US$1.3 billion loan to build one of the globe’s largest wind farms.
Global Offset Experts sources report that the U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu together with Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar recently launched a draft Environmental Impact Statement (PEIS) identifying ‘solar energy zones‘ on public land across six states in the western U.S., considered most suitable for the establishment of utility-scale solar energy plants.
Over the past two years, a number of areas in Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico and Utah have been earmarked for the PEIS as part of Obama’s initiative to speed up the roll-out of renewable energy projects.
"Our country has incredible renewable resources, innovative entrepreneurs, a skilled workforce and manufacturing know-how," Chu recently informed Global Offset Experts. "Its time to harness these resources and lead in the global clean energy economy.”
Chu, in a recent statement, also pointed out that the Department of Energy (DoE) would, in early 2011, launch a US$50 million fund aimed at assisting developers to bring solar technology to market. The DoE is expected to receive applications from projects to develop lower-cost concentrated solar power systems and concentrated photovoltaic technologies.
The energy secretary also confirmed to Global Offset Experts that a partial US$1.3 billion loan had been granted to finance the Caithness Shepherds Flat project, an 845 MW wind farm planned for eastern Oregon and backed by Caithness Energy and GE Energy Financial Services.
The wind farm is expected to employ around 400 workers during construction and 35 during operation according to the Energy Department. The project will also be the first in the world to employ GE’s 2.5xl turbines, which are designed to increase efficiency, reliability and grid integration.
"This loan guarantee helps ensure that this project will be built, that jobs will be created, that the Oregon economy will benefit and that the U.S. will be another step closer to energy independence," Senator Ron Wyden told Global Offset Experts. "When it is completed, Shepherds Flat will be one of the largest windmill farms in the world and will put Oregon on the map as a leader in green energy."
The US$1.3 billion loan is expected to be funded by a group of 26 international investors and commercial banks led by Citi, Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ, RBS Securities and WestLB Securities.
The announcement was a further advance for the U.S.’s renewables sector after the Senate earlier approved plans to extend vital grant schemes and tax breaks for large projects.
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