Arizona Solar Plant with Thermal Energy Storage Begins Operation

November 08, 2013

The first large-scale solar plant in the United States with thermal energy storage has begun commercial operation, its developer Abengoa announced on October 9. The plant, Solana, is located about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, Arizona, and is the world's largest parabolic trough plant with a total installed capacity of 280 megawatt generated by concentrating solar power. The $2 billion project received a federal loan guarantee for $1.45 billion from the United States Department of Energy Federal Loan Guarantee Program.

Solana's technology allows it to continuing to produce electricity after the sun goes down, generating six hours of electricity using only the thermal storage system. The technology consists of parabolic shaped mirrors mounted on structures that track the sun and concentrate the sun’s heat, later transforming water into steam and powering a conventional steam turbine. Solana will generate enough electricity for 70,000 households and will avoid about half a million tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year. Arizona Public Service will purchase all of the electricity produced by the solar plant for 30 years. See the Abengoa press release.