On July 3, 2010, President Obama announced the offer of a conditional commitment to Solana, Arizona-based Abengoa Solar Inc. for a $1.45 Billion loan guarantee to finance the construction and start-up of a concentrating solar power generating facility. The facility will utilize parabolic solar trough technology and a 6-hour energy storage system, which will add 250 MW of capactiy to the electrical grid.
Named the Solana Project, the facility will be located near Gila Bend, Arizona. It will supply about 70,000 homes with power and reduce overall CO2 emissions by 475,000 tons per year. Abengoa Solar has signed a 30-year power purchase agreement with APS, the state’s largest electric utility, to sell the energy.
Solar trough systems use parabolic mirrors that focus the sun’s energy at up to 60 times its normal intensity onto a receiver pipe filled with a fluid, usually synthetic oil. The fluid becomes heated to over 700°F and is pumped through a heat exchanger to produce steam. Electricity is then produced with a conventional steam turbine. The Solana facility will also inlcude 6 hours of molten salt thermal energy storage, which will dispatch energy during cloudy periods and evening hours.
The project will create over 1,600 construction jobs with an additional 85 permanent jobs, and is expected to attract hundreds more in indirect employment. Two assembly plants will be constructed on the Solana Project site, as well as a factory in Surprise, AZ to supply the company’s need of over 900,000 mirrors.
Regarding the Solana Project, Energy Secretary Steven Chu stated, “Supporting this type of innovative renewable energy project is part of our commitment to creating a clean energy future while significantly reducing green house gases.”