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DOE Offers $1.2bn to Solar, Bio-Diesel Projects

The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has offered loan guarantees of $967 million to an Arizona solar plant billed as the world’s largest, and $241 million to a project set to nearly triple the country’s renewable diesel production.

The DOE made the solar offer to Agua Caliente Solar, LLC for a 290 MW photovoltaic facility being built in Yuma County, Arizona. The NRG Solar development will use thin film solar panels from First Solar. Construction began in 2010 and the project is set to complete in 2014.

Pacific Gas & Electric Company will buy the power from the project for consumers in California. NRG says the project will provide electricity for about 10,000 homes.

NRG estimates that the project will prevent about 237,000 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, equivalent to over 40,000 cars.

Yesterday the Department of Energy also offered a loan guarantee to an advanced biofuels plant for the first time. The $241 million conditional commitment to Diamond Green Diesel, LLC, a proposed joint venture between Valero Energy Corporation and fat rendering company Darling International, will support a 137 million gallon per year renewable diesel facility in Norco, Louisiana.

The project is projected to almost triple the amount of renewable diesel produced in the U.S., the DOE said, and will fulfil almost 14 percent of a national mandate on production of biomass-based diesel.

The bio-diesel will reduce greenhouse gases by more than 80 percent over conventional diesel, the DOE said.

Darling International will supply animal fats, used cooking oil and other waste grease streams to the project, while Valero will direct design, construction, operation and marketing of the project’s output.

The DOE’s Loans Programs Office has so far offered loan guarantees on 17 clean energy projects, totaling over $17 billion.

Yesterday the U.S. Department of Agriculture also made a number of grants and loan guarantees to biofuels projects.

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