The Department of Energy (DOE) on Thursday finalized a $967 million loan guarantee for a solar photovoltaic facility in Arizona. On Tuesday, it also awarded $7 million for independent cost analyses supporting research and development for fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems.

The $967 million loan guarantee will support the four-year construction of the 290-MW Agua Caliente Solar project planned for Yuma County. The project will use thin-film solar panels made by First Solar. The project, initially developed by NextLight Renewable Power LLC, is now being completed by First Solar, which acquired NextLight on July 12. Pacific Gas & Electric Co. will buy power generated by the project for California consumers.

First Solar said that the project is environmentally unique in that the solar panels will sit no more than 6 feet above the ground at their highest point, and no new transmission infrastructure will be required.

DOE’s Loan Programs Office has issued loans or loan guarantees, or offered conditional commitments for loan guarantees, totaling more than $40 billion to support 42 clean energy projects across the U.S.

On Aug. 9, the DOE announced it would fund independent cost analyses for the development of fuel cells and hydrogen storage systems. Over the next five years, four projects—in California, Ohio, and Virginia—will generate cost estimates for manufacturing equipment, labor, energy, raw materials, and various components. The research is expected to help identify ways to drive down production costs of transportation fuel cell systems, stationary fuel cell systems, and hydrogen storage systems. The project will also help the DOE focus future research and development funding on the fuel cell components and manufacturing processes that can deliver the greatest gains in efficiency.

These projects will generate life-cycle cost analyses of existing and conceptual fuel cell systems for transportation and stationary applications. The four projects will analyze a range of system sizes, manufacturing volumes, and applications, including transportation, backup power, and material-handling equipment such as forklifts.

Directed Technologies, Inc., in Arlington, Va., will conduct two analyses, one on transportation fuel cell systems and the other on hydrogen storage systems. The DOE’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory will develop total cost models for low- and high-temperature stationary fuel cell systems up to 250 kW. And Battelle Memorial Institute, in Columbus, Ohio, will assess stationary fuel cell applications up to 25 kW, including forklifts, backup power units, primary power, and combined heat and power systems, and will analyze large-scale fuel cell applications ranging from 100 to 250 kW, such as auxiliary power, primary power, and large-scale combined heat and power systems.

Sources: POWERnews, DOE