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California Solar Sites Get $1.88 Billion in U.S. Guarantees

June 14 (Bloomberg) -- NextEra Energy Resources LLC and Abengoa SA’s solar energy unit received conditional loan guarantee offers from the U.S. Energy Department to develop two solar-thermal projects in Southern California.

The department said today in a statement that it offered a $1.2 billion conditional commitment to Abengoa for its 250-megawatt Mojave Solar Project on fully permitted private land in San Bernardino County. It also offered a $681.6 million guarantee to NextEra for its 250-megawatt Genesis Solar Project on public land in Riverside County. The Bureau of Land Management approved a right-of-way to build the project on the site in November.

Mojave and Genesis are scheduled to enter operation in 2013 and 2014, respectively, and both projects will supply power to California utility Pacific Gas & Electric Co. They will use parabolic mirrors to focus sunlight on horizontal tubes containing a heat transfer fluid that will be piped to a water boiler. The steam that’s produced will drive conventional turbines.

Genesis will be air-cooled and will employ “proven and scalable parabolic trough” technology that has been used commercially for more than 20 years, the agency said.

Mojave will include two 125-megawatt, water-cooled generating units and will be the first U.S. deployment of Seville, Spain-based Abengoa’s next-generation parabolic trough design.

Improved Design

The design is a “significant improvement” over previous plants that the company installed in the U.S. during the 1980s and 1990s, the agency said. Those modifications include a lighter, stronger frame to hold mirrors that are less expensive and easier to install, as well as a receiver tube that increases thermal efficiency by as much as 30 percent, compared with the first U.S. plants, according to the statement.

The Energy Department said it has issued loans and guarantees or offered conditional loan guarantees totaling more than $32 billion to support 32 clean-energy projects. That includes more than $10 billion in loan guarantees for solar projects, according to the statement.

NextEra Energy Resources is a unit of Juno Beach, Florida-based Nextera Energy Inc. Lakewood, Colorado-based Abengoa Solar Inc. is the U.S. solar unit of Abengoa SA.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Herndon in San Francisco at aherndon2@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reed Landberg at landberg@bloomberg.net

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