Arizona seeks to become the ‘Persian Gulf’ of solar energy
February 22, 2008
With a Spanish company’s plans to dramatically expand solar capacity in the desert southwest of Phoenix, Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano said Arizona could become the “Persian Gulf of solar energy,” according to the Associated Press.
Abengoa Solar intends to begin construction on the 280-megawatt plant in Gila Bend next year and hopes to be generating solar energy by 2011.
The $1 billion plant, named the Solana Generating Station, should supply enough electricity for 70,000 homes when fully operational.
Unlike other solar plants, Solana will use the Sun’s heat, rather than its light, to produce power. Mirrors at the plant will heat liquids which will spin electricity-generating turbines. Thermal power means the plant will continue to generate electricity after the sun goes down. The plant will also be less expensive to build than conventional solar farms which rely on polysilicon for capturing sunlight.
Arizonia utilities will be required to get 15 percent of their electricity from renewable sources by 2025. Once completed, Solana will bring APS — the utility that will run the plant — to 5 percent.