Arizona Public Service plans to build one of the world’s largest solar facilities – a 280-megawatt concentrating solar power plant 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, near Gila Bend, Arizona.
The Solana Generating Station will produce enough energy to serve 70,000 APS customers when operating at full capacity. The plant will be built by Abengoa Solar, and is scheduled to come online in 2011. Solana will provide APS with more solar electricity per customer than any utility in the U.S. The facility also would be the largest solar power plant in the world if in operation today.
Solana will produce and store energy during the day, and then provide that energy for use by customers across periods of peak demand. APS will purchase 100 percent of the plant’s energy output, pending approval from the Arizona Corporation Commission. The value of the produced energy will be about $4 billion over 30 years.
Unlike traditional solar plants, which use direct sunlight to produce electricity, concentrating solar power uses the sun’s heat. Parabolic mirrors track the sun and focus solar energy on a heat transfer fluid. Once heated, the liquid converts water into steam, which turns the plant’s turbines to create electricity.