Back in April, I had the pleasure of announcing that the Department of Energy had extended our largest conditional loan guarantee for a solar project – $2.1 billion to support a concentrating solar thermal power plant near Blythe, California. Last Friday, the Blythe Solar Power Project broke ground, beginning construction of a project that upon completion will generate 1,000 megawatts of solar power, enough to power more than 300,000 single-family homes a year.
We are in a global race to develop and deploy clean energy technologies. Countries like China recognize the economic opportunities and are moving aggressively. So must we. The Blythe project will do more than produce clean power – it will also make the U.S. solar industry more competitive and create good jobs. The project’s sponsor, Solar Trust of America, expects that it will generate more than 1,000 construction jobs in the area. This will boost local economic growth as workers spend money on goods and services throughout Riverside County.
The benefits aren’t confined to Blythe. The project is estimated to create jobs throughout the U.S. supply chain in areas like steel manufacturing. According to Solar Trust of America, the project will require more steel than the quantity that makes up San Francisco’s iconic Golden Gate Bridge. America’s steel industry, which is spread across the country, can help meet that demand.
The Department of Energy’s loan guarantees play a critical role in creating jobs and deploying innovative, commercial-scale clean energy technologies. In total, the Department’s loan programs have committed financing to support 35 clean energy projects that will create or save more than 63,000 jobs across the U.S. Projects like Blythe will also help meet President Obama’s goal of doubling the generating 80 percent of electricity from clean energy sources by 2035.
These investments will strengthen American leadership in the clean energy economy and will continue to pay dividends to our environment, our energy infrastructure and our workforce for decades to come.
Steven Chu is the Secretary of Energy.