Arizona to get world’s biggest solar plant

Posted by Laura Grant on March 10, 2008
Posted in Renewable energy

Impression of Solana plant in ArizonaEven if SA’s power monopoly Eskom does decide to go ahead with its plan to build the 100MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant near Upington that Treevolution wrote about last year, it will no longer be the world’s biggest. A 280MW CSP plant is being built about 100km southwest of Phoenix, Arizona. At full capacity the plant, known as Solana, will be able to produce enough electricity for 70,000 households, while avoiding over 400,000 tons of greenhouse gases, says the Arizona Public Service Company (APS).

The new facility is being built by Abengoa Solar and is expected to start producing power in 2011. “The facility would be the largest solar power plant in the world if in operation today,” says APS. The utility will buy all the plant’s power for the first 30 years at a cost of about $4 billion.

Solana will cover a surface of about 7,5 square kilometres and will use parabolic trough-shaped mirrors to capture the sun’s heat and focus it upon a length of “absorber” tubing. A fluid passed through the tubing his heated and used to boil water to steam, which then spins a turbine to produce electricity. The plant is also able to store power. For more on how Solana’s technology click here.

Eskom is looking at solar tower technology for its proposed CSP, rather than parabolic troughs.

APS has also announced that it has joined a consortium of utilities in the southwestern United States that have an interest in contracting for a separate 250MW solar power plant.

The Arizona Corporate Commission set a renewable energy standard in November 2006 that calls for Arizona’s regulated utilities to obtain at least 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. When Solana is complete, APS says it will be able to provide enough renewable energy to serve 100,000 homes. It can already generate 131.5MW – from wind, geothermal and solar – enough to power more than 37,000 homes.

Abengoa Solar has experience developing and building large solar plants in Spain, Morocco and Algeria. The company says is currently operating the world’s first commercial CSP solar tower plant in Spain. It is also building three more CSP plants in Spain with a total capacity of 120MW, two trough plants that will generate 50MW of electricity each, one tower plant with a capacity of 20MW and two hybrid gas-solar plants in Algeria and Morocco.

Via :: African Energy News Review and Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy News

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