According to Reuters, the future of a BrightSource Energy Inc. solar thermal power plant in California hangs in the balance, as financing for the project still has not been secured. The project could be delayed if the US government’s economic stimulus package does not provide incentives that would supply financing for renewable energy projects.
The plant, which would provide up to 900MW of solar thermal power to California utility PG&E Corp, is scheduled to begin supplying power at the end of 2011.
“We should be able to turn dirt over and start construction in the fourth quarter of this year, but big financings don’t come in months,” said BrightSource Chief Executive John Woolard. “Depending on what happens out of the stimulus bill, it could get pushed back.”
Renewable energy projects experienced a boom in funding over the last two years, however this was cut short by the global credit crisis. Falling oil prices have further discouraged investing in alternative energy projects.
US President Barack Obama’s proposed US$825 billion economic stimulus plan provides incentives for renewable energy projects and, according to Woolard, is vital to renewing investor interest.
“If you were to wait for private markets to come back completely, you’d be waiting a long time,” said Woolard. “But if you look at what you can do with the right amount of government support, you could see things happen this year.” He went on to call the stimulus package “one of the most important pieces of legislation in renewables, period.”
BrightSource’s contracts with PG&E could provide power for up to 630,000 homes in California, where utility companies are required by law to obtain 20% of their power supplies from renewable sources by 2010.