Phoenix, AZ, April 24, 2006 — Arizona Public Service Co. (APS) has completed Arizona’s first solar trough power plant. The plant features more than 100,000 square feet of parabolic-trough shaped mirrors and stands more than 15 feet tall. Neatly aligned in 6 rows — each more than 1,200 feet long that sit on a stretch of desert between Phoenix and Tucson — the mirrors already are quietly concentrating the sun’s energy and producing one megawatt of clean electrical power.
The output is enough electricity to meet the demands of about 200 homes.
The plant uses a solar thermal generator and mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy to heat oil. The heat from the oil is then used to drive a turbine/generator that produces electricity.
Commercial operation of the solar trough now makes APS the largest producer of solar energy in Arizona, said the company in a recent press release. APS has more than six megawatts of solar electric generating capacity.
The solar trough is capable of storing energy, which allows the solar generators to supply electricity when needed, not just when the sun is shining. The plant also combines solar trough technology with an Organic Rankine Cycle Power Block, typically used in geothermal and biomass applications. The block allows the plant to produce more power at lower temperatures.
APS and its partners, Solargenix Energy based in Raleigh, NC, and Ormat International of Reno, NV, began construction of the $6 million plant in June 2004 and completed it 15 months later. Construction was made possible by the Arizona Corporation Commission’s Environmental Portfolio Standard, a commission program aimed at spurring development of renewable technology projects.
Solargenix was the system integrator and provider of the parabolic trough and Ormat designed and installed the power conversion unit. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory provided technical expertise.
Solargenix president John Myles said, “Solar thermal plants like this one incorporate automatic operation technology and can play an important role in meeting the increasing demand for electricity in Arizona and the southwest.”
Dr. Udo Ungeheuer, chairman of SCHOTT Management Board, who produced the receivers at the plant, said, “Solar thermal parabolic trough power plants have the potential to be an important source of energy as the world seeks to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.”
Solargenix is a subsidiary of Acciona Energia based in Spain. It is currently constructing a 64-megawatt solar thermal power plant in Boulder City, NV.