May 6, 2022
I worked in the group at DOE that provided a loan guarantee to Solyndra and this plant. Our mission, in accordance with the Energy Policy Act of 2005 (Bush was President) was to provide loan guarantees to projects using innovative technology which if successful had a reasonable prospect of being commercialized.
The narrator warns about the S curve and we were clearly aware of that. This project had an attractive power sales agreement and the technology while innovative was based on proven technologies. In fact, we financed at least one other CSP plant that used Milton salt storage and that plant has performed well.
Obviously a failed project is not good news to a lender or an investor. But the project did advance the concept of CSP plants — although I doubt another one will be built in the US. Compared with PV based plants, these plants will always cost more and the molton salt storage is more expensive (and risky) than battery storage.
It is interesting how much negative press Solyndra received relative to this project.