Undaunted by their failure to catch so much as a single guppy, Republicans in Congress are paddling on with their fishing expedition through the Obama administration's clean-energy initiatives. They are nothing if not dutiful.
Here's what we know about Ivanpah, a concentrated solar power (CSP) project being developed by BrightSource Energy. It started construction in October 2010, amid great fanfare from politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger and Interior Secretary Ken Salazar. It is technically three separate, contiguous power plants, built in phases, with a total of 170,000 heliostat mirrors, spread across 3,600 acres, aiming sunlight at three solar power towers. It will have a gross capacity of around 392 megawatts and will be, when completed, the largest CSP installation in the world.
In April 2011, the project got a $1.6 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy (DOE), allowing it to scale up its already substantial private funding from, among others, NRG Solar and Google. A little over a year later, according to DOE, the project is about one-third completed and is employing over 1,700 people on site. When it's finished it will "avoid 574,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, equivalent to emissions of 110,000 vehicles" and "generate enough clean electricity to power approximately 87,000 homes annually."
In other words, DOE's investment has not failed. On the contrary, it's kind of awesome! Everything's going according to schedule. Jobs are being created. Barriers are being broken. If it proceeds according to plan, taxpayers won't shell out anything, California will get tons of clean energy and jobs, and the U.S. solar industry will have a domestic success story. Plus the thing is just gorgeous to look at.