Boilers, Energy Storage, Renewables

Arizona concentrating solar power project passes commercial operation tests

Abengoa’s 280-MW Solana concentrating solar power project has successfully passed commercial operation tests. The Arizona project is the world’s largest parabolic trough plant and the first U.S. solar plant with thermal energy storage.

The thermal energy storage system allows the plant to generate electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field. Abengoa stated in a release the facility is “a tangible demonstration that solar energy can be stored and dispatched upon demand.”

The project uses parabolic-shaped mirrors mounted on structures that track the sun and concentrate its heat, later transforming water into steam and power a conventional steam turbine. The technology allows the project to be dispatchable, providing six hours of generation to be used during Arizona’s peak electricity demands during the summer evenings and early night time hours and eliminating intermittency issues.

The total investment of the plant is around $2 billion dollars. During financing, Solana received a federal loan guarantee for $1.45 billion from the U.S. Department of Energy Federal Loan Guarantee Program, which Abengoa said made construction of the plant possible.

The power produced by Solana will be purchased by Arizona Public Service through a 30-year power purchase agreement.

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