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BrightSource secures £1bn to build world's largest solar power plant in California

The US Department of Energy has conditionally granted $1.37bn (£1bn) in loan guarantees for construction and start up of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, a 440MW solar power facility in southeastern California being built by BrightSource Energy and Bechtel.

Bechtel has partnered with BrightSource on the Ivanpah project as the engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) contractor, and is an equity investor in the project.

The US DOE’s commitment to provide loan guarantees is a key milestone in the development of the Ivanpah project, providing crucial financial support for California’s first large-scale commercial solar thermal power plant in nearly two decades.

Ivanpah will be the world’s largest solar energy project, nearly doubling the amount of solar thermal electricity produced in the United States today. The facility will include three separate solar thermal power plants and generate enough electricity to run 140,000 homes, reducing carbon dioxide emissions by more than 408,000t per year.

“The DOE Loan Guarantee program serves as a tremendous catalyst for building our clean energy infrastructure,” said Ian Copeland, president of Bechtel Renewables and New Technology. “The Ivanpah project will usher in a new era of advanced solar power, and help the state and local economies by providing new jobs. We are pleased to not only support BrightSource as the engineering and construction contractor but also as an investor, which reflects our confidence in the project and our commitment to developing clean, renewable power projects.”

Construction is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2010 following issuance of permits by the California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Land Management.

BrightSource and Bechtel estimate that the Ivanpah project will create 1,000 union jobs at the peak of construction and require in excess of three million job hours. In December 2009, Bechtel Construction Company signed a project labor agreement with the State Building and Construction Trades Council of California and the Building and Construction Trades Council of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Under the agreement, the two labor organizations will provide qualified, skilled craft workers to the Ivanpah project, and Bechtel will provide fair wages, fringe benefits, and working conditions for all craft workers.

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