West / Regional Reports

New Solar Power Plant Will Be Among World's Largest

March 17, 2008
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PHOENIX - Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) has announced plans for one of the world’s largest solar facilities - a 280-megawatt (MW) concentrating solar power (CSP) plant to be built 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, near Gila Bend, Ariz.

The Solana Generating Station will produce enough energy to serve 70,000 households when operating at full capacity. The plant will be built by Abengoa Solar Inc., and is scheduled to provide its renewable energy beginning in 2011. Solana will not emit greenhouse gases and will provide APS with more solar electricity per customer than any utility in the United States. The facility also would be the largest solar power plant in the world if in operation today.

“APS is committed to making Arizona the solar capital of the world and bringing affordable renewable energy to all our customers,” said APS President Don Brandt. “The Arizona Corporation Commission has challenged Arizona utilities to be leaders in renewable energy, and we are responding aggressively.”

Solana will employ state-of-the-art technology that can both produce and store energy during the day, and then provide that energy for use by APS customers across periods of peak demand. APS will purchase 100 percent of the plant’s energy output, pending approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission. The value of the produced energy will be about $4 billion over 30 years.

Unlike traditional solar-photovoltaic plants, which use direct sunlight to produce electricity, concentrating solar power uses the sun’s heat. Parabolic mirrors track the sun and focus solar energy on a heat transfer fluid. Once heated, the liquid converts water into steam, which turns the plant’s turbines to create electricity. This technology allows the plant to produce more energy for customers than a traditional solar power plant, which only produces electricity when exposed to direct sunlight.

Solana Generating Station will create about 1,500 construction jobs and, when completed, will employ about 85 skilled technicians. APS and Abengoa Solar estimate the project will bring more than $1 billion in economic benefits to the state of Arizona.

Publication date: 03/17/2008

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