Foreign Policy Blogs

$2 Billion for Solar

President Obama announced a major commitment to solar production this morning:  loan guarantees to large solar power facilities –  a 280 MW concentrated solar power plant (CSP) and two photovoltaic (PV) factories, with a combined output of 840 MW annually.  See this fact sheet from the White House.  The CSP plant will be built by a Spanish company, Abengoa, in Arizona, and the two PV manufacturies by Abound in Colorado and Indiana.

We drove by one of Abengoa’s facilities last summer, the first commercial solar tower in the world.  It is an extraordinary sight.


The President talked in his address this morning about the importance of these projects for jobs.  “These are just two of the many clean energy investments in the Recovery Act. Already, I’ve seen the payoff from these investments. I’ve seen once-shuttered factories humming with new workers who are building solar panels and wind turbines; rolling up their sleeves to help America win the race for the clean energy economy.”  The part of his address about the solar projects and clean tech jobs is from 1:50 of the video here to about 3:50.  Good stuff.

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Comments (7)

  1. Windy City Kid Sunday - 04 / 07 / 2010 Reply
    Bill - last year Solar Millennium had announced a similar project in Neveada but the project stalled because it required 1.3 billion gallons of water per year which would likely have caused a water shortage. Do you know if the project in your post requires water and if so how much?
    • Bill Hewitt
      Bill Hewitt Sunday - 04 / 07 / 2010 Reply
      Excellent point, as always, Kid. Water is definitely a concern for Solana. It appears, however, that it will be using significantly less water than is currently being used on site for agricultural purposes. See this from the University of Arizona, in particular the last paragraph.
  2. Windy City Kid Sunday - 04 / 07 / 2010 Reply
    Bill - Thanks! This is a fascinating concept and seems, IMO, to overcome the limitations associated with SPV in 100+ degree settings (loss of efficiency and shortend life span of panels). In fact mirrors would actually increase the energy capture rate in 100+ degree settings, mirrors aren't limited to a 20 year or so life span like SPV which I would assume means lower costs in the long run as you wouldn't have the costs associated with replacing SPV panels every 20 or so years.
  3. Patrick Frost
    Pat Friday - 16 / 07 / 2010 Reply
    I wonder how much tax dollars it will cost for each of jobs created through this project. $2 billion/$100,000 a job would create 20,000 jobs! Wow, that sounds pretty good. The only problem is I read that this project may only bring in a few hundred jobs at most. I think Americans could have spent this money a bit more efficiently. But who cares! We've got money to burn!
  4. Bill Hewitt
    William F. Hewitt Friday - 16 / 07 / 2010 Reply
    Yeah, Patrick, maybe spending it on American troops keeping the world safe for ExxonMobil would be a better bet.
  5. Tandy Sunday - 18 / 07 / 2010 Reply
    Mr. Hewitt, Has there actually been any info on how many jobs this will create? It seems like a fair question considering the amount of federal tax dollars being put into such a project. This measure is part of the Recovery Act and the President talks constantly about creating 'green' jobs so I think this is a valid question. I also think it poor taste to take a swipe at American servicemen. I do not see what they have to do with this project.
    • Bill Hewitt
      Bill Hewitt Monday - 19 / 07 / 2010 Reply
      Tandy - Here's the fact sheet from the White House with the specifics on the jobs. Beyond this, according to the REN21 report I referenced in my post on renewables yesterday: "Globally, there are an estimated 3 million direct jobs in renewable energy industries, about half of them in the biofuels industry, with additional indirect jobs well beyond this figure." As to my reference to American servicemen and servicewomen, I think you misunderstand. I am simply saying that they will be much safer and put to infinitely better use if their blood and our treasure is not being spent keeping the Persian Gulf open for business so that ExxonMobil (and BP, and Shell, etc.) can continue to make huge profits. It is, to put it another way, manifestly horrible public policy to use the American defense capability as a private security force for the oil companies. We don't need oil anymore - and, frankly, its value has never been worth the price we've paid over many decades.

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Bill Hewitt
Bill Hewitt

Bill Hewitt has been an environmental activist and professional for nearly 25 years. He was deeply involved in the battle to curtail acid rain, and was also a Sierra Club leader in New York City. He spent 11 years in public affairs for the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation, and worked on environmental issues for two NYC mayoral campaigns and a presidential campaign. He is a writer and editor and is the principal of Hewitt Communications. He has an M.S. in international affairs, has taught political science at Pace University, and has graduate and continuing education classes on climate change, sustainability, and energy and the environment at The Center for Global Affairs at NYU. His book, "A Newer World - Politics, Money, Technology, and What’s Really Being Done to Solve the Climate Crisis," will be out from the University Press of New England in December.

Areas of Focus:
the policy, politics, science and economics of environmental protection, sustainability, energy and climate change


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