Solar panels
Solar panelsIsrael news photo: courtesy of BrightSource

U.S. President Barack Obama had warm words this month for an Israeli clean-tech company that is launching a project to build the largest solar power plant in the world.

The BrightSource plant, to be located in the Mojave Desert, is expected to provide approximately 1,000 jobs and will power up to 140,000 homes with solar energy. The solar array to be used is based on a full-scale model project built at the Rotem Industrial Park in the Negev Desert near the Dead Sea.

BrightSource has an engineering subsidiary in Jerusalem as well as its headquarters in Oakland, California.

“The largest such plant in the world is not in China, not in India, but in California,” commented Obama. “With projects like this one we are staking our claim to continued leadership in the new global economy… that will protect our planet for future generations.”

In March, the company received $1.37 billion in loan guarantees from the U.S. government’s Department of Energy Title XVII program, which supports commercially proven technologies, enabling it to move ahead. Two local utility companies – Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) and Southern California Edison – also agreed to purchase the 400 megawatts of power the plant is expected to produce by 2013.

The plant, which will come close to doubling the amount of solar thermal electricity currently produced in the United States, is the first new solar thermal plant to be built in the state of California in the past 20 years.