Trump's team calls for freeze on $25bn new DOE loans; Ivanpah fulfils output contract

Solar thermal news you need to know.

Trump's advisers want to freeze DOE loan program

President Donald Trump’s advisers have recommended the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) freezes a loan program that supported the construction of renewable energy and nuclear power plants, including NRG Energy's 392 MW Ivanpah plant in California, Bloomberg reported February 8.

Trump's transition team has called for a halt to new loan guarantees, of which more than $25 billion was still available for allocation, Bloomberg reported, citing two sources familiar with the plan. The transition team set out its recommendations in a memo to Energy Secretary nominee Rick Perry, it said.

The Trump administration wants further time to determine whether the loan guarantee program should be abolished, according to the report.

The DOE would continue to administer the $30 billion portfolio of allocated loans and guarantees, the sources told Bloomberg.

US Ivanpah plant meets contract output threshold

NRG Energy has raised output at its 392 MW Ivanpah plant in southern California and the plant is producing enough electricity to fulfil offtake contract obligations with Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E), Bloomberg reported February 1.

Ivanpah began commercial operation in 2013. The developers expected the plant to take several years to reach maximum production but actual output was lower than expected.

A year-long forbearance deal with PG&E expired February 1 and the plant is no longer at risk of defaulting on the offtake deal, David Knox, NRG Energy spokesman, told Bloomberg.

Ivanpah is the largest operational solar thermal power plant in the world. The plant was constructed by Bechtel and is operated by NRG Energy. Brightsource and Google also own equity stakes.

In March 2016, the California Public Utilities Commission unanimously approved a deal between PG&E and owners that gave the operators more time to increase electricity production.

In return, PG&E refrained from declaring its Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) in default.

PG&E is buying the power from Ivanpah’s Units 1 and 3 under two long-term PPAs, while the electricity from Unit 2 is being sold to Southern California Edison under a similar contract.

Global solar funding slumps

Solar corporate funding in 2016 slumped by 64.0% year-on-year to $9.1 billion, according to the latest figures published by Mercom Capital group.

Fourth-quarter corporate funding slumped 76.8% on a year ago, to $1.6 billion, it said.

Total clean energy technology investment fell by 18% last year to $287.5 billion, largely driven by falling solar power prices and slower growth in China and Japan, Bloomberg New Energy Finance (BNEF) reported January 12.

Mercom Capital said that while annual venture capital (VC) funding in solar projects rose by 18.2% in 2016 to $1.3 billion, VC funding in Q4 2016 fell 28.2% on a year ago to $329 million.

Source: Mercom Capital

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