DOE Provides First Construction Loan Guarantee To Solar Manufacturer

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U.S. Energy Secretary Steven Chu has offered a $535 million loan guarantee to Fremont, Calif.-based Solyndra Inc. to support the company's construction of a commercial-scale manufacturing plant for its proprietary cylindrical solar photovoltaic panels. The announcement marks the first loan guarantee offered by the Department of Energy (DOE), with support from the Obama administration's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Solyndra expects to create thousands of new jobs in the U.S. while deploying its solar panels across the U.S. and around the world. According to the company, its photovoltaic systems are designed to provide the lowest installed cost and the highest solar electricity output on commercial, industrial and institutional rooftops, which are considered a vast, underutilized resource for the distributed generation of clean electricity. Solyndra's design transforms glass tubes into high-performance photovoltaic panels.

Solyndra is currently ramping up production in its initial manufacturing facilities. Once finalized, the DOE loan guarantee will enable the company to build and operate its manufacturing processes at full commercial scale.

The conditional commitment offered by the DOE will require Solyndra to meet an equity commitment, as well as other conditions, prior to closing, the DOE says. The department had initially set a target to announce its first conditional commitments by May.

Sen. Jeff Bingaman, chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, says he views this milestone as a positive sign that the culture is changing at the DOE.

‘After years of watching this program struggle to get off the ground, it's encouraging to see that Secretary Chu's energetic new leadership at the department is having an effect,’ he states. ‘This news is especially welcome at a time when our nation's economic problems have made it so difficult for companies to find financing for clean energy projects.’

SOURCES: U.S. Department of Energy, U.S. Senate Committee On Energy and Natural Resources

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