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Environment

Obama Announces $2 Billion for 2 Ambitious Solar Power Schemes

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It will take more than a little sun to get one of the world's biggest solar power plants up and running: it will also require 1,600 workers to build it and a lot of cash. On Saturday, President Obama announced that the U.S. Department of Energy will use last year's stimulus bill to issue $1.85 billion in loan guarantees to two solar power companies, one of which plans to build one of the planet's largest solar power plant in Arizona. Solana, the big solar power plant planned by Abengoa Solar Inc., will cover an area of around 1,900 acres near Gila Bend, Arizona. As detailed in a White House press release, the company claims that the plant will be one of the first in the United States able to store its own power. According to the release, it will also be able to generate 280 megawatts of power—enough energy to run more than 70,000 homes--and will prevent the emission of 475,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year. After construction, the plant will support 85 some permanent jobs, the company claims.

"After years of watching companies build things and create jobs overseas, it’s good news that we’ve attracted a company to our shores to build a plant and create jobs right here in America,” Obama said of Abengoa. . . . "What’s more, over 70 per cent of the components and products used in construction will be manufactured in the USA, boosting jobs and communities in states up and down the supply chain. Once completed, this plant will be the first large-scale solar plant in the US to actually store the energy it generates for later use—even at night.” [Consumer Energy Report]

The other company, Abound Solar Manufacturing, will get $400 million to build two solar-panel manufacturing plants, one in an empty Chrysler supplier factory in Tipton, Indiana. The company estimates that building the two plants will require 2,000 workers and operating them will create 1,500 permanent positions; the company also says it will be first to use a new solar panel technology commercially.

Abound Solar Manufacturing, will manufacture state-of-the-art thin film solar panels, the first time anywhere that such technology has been used commercially. [BBC]

Obama's focus on the amount of jobs created by each plant comes on the tail of an announcement from the U.S. Labor Department:

Obama coupled his announcement with an acknowledgment that efforts to recover from the recession are slow a day after the Labor Department reported that private hiring in June rose by 83,000. "It's going to take months, even years, to dig our way out and it's going to require an all-hands-on-deck effort," he said. [The Independent]

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