DOE adds $30 billion for renewable energy projects

Steven Chu

Sec. of Energy Steven Chu

The Obama administration is adding $30 billion in new loan guarantees for renewable energy projects, DOE Secretary Steven Chu announced Wednesday.

“These investments will be used to create jobs,” said Chu, and “spur the development of innovative clean energy technologies.

Another $750 million will be used to leverage billions more for upgrading electrical transmission lines into a smart grid.

“This administration has set a goal of doubling renewable electricity generation over the next three years,” Chu continued. “To achieve that goal, we need to accelerate renewable project development by ensuring access to capital for advanced technology projects. We also need a grid that can move clean energy from the places it can be produced to the places where it can be used and that can integrate variable sources of power, like wind and solar.”

The announcements came at a time when some advocates of renewable power have voiced fears that the United States is falling behind other nations — particularly in Asia — in the race for clean energy.

“[This is a] sign of the Administration’s commitment to growing the solar industry.”

Rhone Resch, head of the Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA), a DC-based trade group,  immediately applauded Chu’s announcement.

“Like every sector of the economy,” said Resch, “the solar industry has suffered from a lack of project financing. The creation of the new loan guarantee program for ‘innovative technologies’ will help bring much needed capital to the solar market. While there is still much to do to expedite utility scale solar projects, today’s announcement is yet another sign of the Administration’s commitment to growing the solar industry.

“This program alone will create more than 15,000 new jobs in the solar energy industry in 2010, as long as the DOE can process the applications quickly. Through this program, we expect the solar industry to deploy more than 5 gigawatts of utility-scale solar power representing an investment in the U.S. economy of tens of billions of dollars.”

Specifics of loan guarantees

The money, which comes from the Recovery Act and from 2009 appropriations, will target some key areas. The DOE released these details in a press release:

  • Up to $8.5 billion in lending authority supported by 2009 annual appropriations for renewable energy.
  • Up to $2 billion in subsidy costs, provided by the Recovery Act, to support billions in loans for renewable energy and electric power transmission projects.
  • Up to $500 million in subsidy costs to support loans for cutting edge biofuel projects funded by the Recovery Act.
  • Up to $750 million in subsidy costs, provided by the Recovery Act, to support loans for large transmission infrastructure projects in the U.S. that use commercial technologies and begin construction by September 30, 2011.

Applications for obtaining funds under this new round of solicitations (bringing the total to seven rounds so far), will only be accepted for the next 45 days. More information is posted on the DOE website.

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