The U.S. Energy Dept. gave a boost to new alternative-energy projects on June 10 by announcing a $102-million conditional loan guarantee for a 22-MW geothermal plant in Oregon, the first for that technology. It also agreed to provide $663 million in grants for three other projects to test the capture and storage of CO2 from industrial sources.

The Neal Hot Springs project in eastern Oregon, being developed by Boise-based US Geothermal Inc., would use advanced geothermal technology that is more efficient and can exploit lower-temperature underground heat sources, the company says. It estimates the total project cost at $119 million and says the facility will be in operation by 2012. The developer has already obtained a 25-year power-purchase agreement to sell all its electricity to the Idaho Power Co., Boise. DOE would not say how soon it expects to finalize US Geothermal’s loan guarantee, but a company spokesman predicts it will be shortly.

Separately, DOE said it would provide a total of $612 million in grants, funded through the federal stimulus program, to three companies to support carbon-capture and -storage projects at industrial plants in Louisiana, Texas and Illinois. The funds will pay for design, construction and operation of the facilities. Sponsoring companies will contribute a total of $368 million toward the projects.

One project—to be built by Leucadia Energy in Lake Charles, La.—would capture about 4.5 million tons of CO2 per year from a methanol plant; the project is set to operate by April 2014. In Port Arthur, Texas, another plant would capture CO2 from a steam methane reformer, which produces hydrogen and syngas from natural-gas and other petroleum precursors; that project is expected to be online in November 2012. A third project is set to capture CO2 from an Archer Daniels Midland ethanol plant in Decatur, Ill., and store it at a nearby saline formation; the developer plans to have the facility running by August 2102.

DOE aims to use the projects to test large-scale carbon capture and storage from industrial sites, estimating that these facilities can capture and store a total of about 6.5 million tons of CO2 per year.