Tag Archives: Gila Bend

Parabolic solar troughs. Courtesy of Abengoa.com

Gila Bend's Solana Facility Begins Commercial Operation

Press release originally published at abengoa.com

Abengoa, an international company that applies innovative technology solutions for sustainability in the energy and environment sectors, has announced that Solana, the world’s largest parabolic trough plant with a total installed capacity of 280 MW (gross) and also the first solar plant in the United States with thermal energy storage, has successfully passed commercial operation tests. This milestone marks a major accomplishment for Abengoa and the Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) industry.

Solana is the first solar plant in the U.S. with a thermal energy storage system that is able to generate electricity for six hours without the concurrent use of the solar field, which is a turning point for renewable energy in this country, being a tangible demonstration that solar energy can be stored and dispatched upon demand.

Solana, located near Gila Bend and about 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, began construction in 2010 and on Monday, October 7, successfully fulfilled production forecasts required to date and testing for commercial operation. These tests included operating at the turbine’s full capacity while charging the thermal storage system, continuing to produce electricity after the sun went down, and starting up the plant and producing 6 hours of electricity using only the thermal storage system. These tests successfully demonstrated the various operation modes of the plant’s operation.

Abengoa’s first utility-scale solar plant in the United States employs parabolic trough technology. This technology consists of parabolic shaped mirrors mounted on structures that track the sun and concentrate the sun’s heat, later transforming water into steam and powering a conventional steam turbine. This mature technology has additional value since the heat can also be stored and used to produce clean electricity after the sun goes down or during a transitory period.

This ability to generate electricity when needed, or dispatchability, is one of the unique characteristics of concentrating solar power versus other types of renewables. Solana’s thermal storage system, without the use of the solar field, can produce clean energy for six hours at maximum power. These six hours will satisfy Arizona’s peak electricity demands during the summer evenings and early night time hours. Dispatchability also eliminates intermittency issues that other renewables, such as wind and photovoltaics, contend with, providing stability to the grid and thus increasing the value of the energy generated by CSP.

Arizona Public Service (APS), the largest utility in Arizona, will purchase all of the electricity produced by the solar plant for 30 years through a power purchase agreement with Abengoa.

Solana will generate the clean energy equivalent to that needed to power 70,000 households and will prevent about half a million tons of CO2 from being emitted into the atmosphere per year. The construction of Solana led to the creation of more than 2,000 jobs and a national supply chain that spans 165 companies in 29 states.

The total investment of the plant is approximately two billion dollars and during financing, Solana received a federal loan guarantee for $1.45 billion from the United States Department of Energy Federal Loan Guarantee Program. This support made the construction of Solana possible, creating or maintaining thousands of jobs both in the building of the plant as well as those direct and indirect jobs in the supply chain, as well as providing the Southwest with clean, sustainable energy using innovative technology.

Abengoa currently has 1,223 MW of concentrating solar power in operation and 430 MW under construction. It is the largest CSP company in the world and one of the few that constructs and operates both solar tower and parabolic trough plants.

GilaBend459kW

SOLON Completes 459 kW Solar Project

SOLON Corporation, one of the largest providers of turnkey solar power plants in the United States, today announced it has completed construction of a 459 kilowatt (kW) PV system at the Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Facility for the Town of Gila Bend.

The system is expected to offset the energy usage of the water treatment facility by 86 percent, which will save money for the Town of Gila Bend through reduced utility bills.

“The incorporation of solar into this water treatment facility is another great example of solar’s versatility at reducing power costs across the electric demand spectrum,” said Jared Schoch, Vice President and General Manager of Power Plants at SOLON Corporation. “We are very excited to complete this PV project for the community of Gila Bend.”

SOLON engineered, designed, constructed, and commissioned the fixed-tilt system. As a full service system provider, SOLON will continue to operate and maintain the system on behalf of Gila Bend.

“As part of our strategic focus on renewables and PV to drive down electric costs incurred by the Town of Gila Bend, our water treatment facility was selected because it had the largest electric draw of any Town-owned facility,” said Frederick Buss, Town Manager for Gila Bend. “This system will mitigate those costs greatly. SOLON has done a tremendous job yet again.”

The project development and system ownership was financed through a State of Arizona Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) grant awarded to the Town of Gila Bend for drinking water infrastructure improvements.

SOLON Corporation has installed nearly 65 MW of solar in Arizona, and 90 MW nationwide.

solar

APS takes proposals for solar facility

Arizona’s largest utility company is taking proposals from solar developers and installers for a 32-megawatt facility in Gila Bend.

Arizona Public Service Co. says it will accept bids starting Aug. 22 and is encouraging developers to participate in an upcoming webinar.

The company has been investing in the development of 200 megawatts of solar photovoltaic plants statewide. The goal is to have eight solar facilities operating by the end of 2015 under the AZ Sun Program, creating more than 2,000 construction jobs.

The 32-megawatt facility in Gila Bend will provide enough electricity to power 8,000 Arizona homes.

SOLON

SOLON Begins Construction On Solar Project In Gila Bend

SOLON Corporation, one of the largest providers of turnkey solar power plants and photovoltaic (PV) products in the U.S., announced it has begun construction on a 460 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic (PV) system for the Town of Gila Bend’s Reverse Osmosis (RO) Water Treatment Facility in Arizona.

SOLON will engineer, design, construct and commission the fixed-tilt system, expected to be completed later this year. As a full-service system provider, SOLON will continue to operate and maintain the system on behalf of the town once it is operational.

The project development and system ownership is being financed through a State of Arizona grant – part of the Water Infrastructure Finance Authority (WIFA) grant awarded to the Town of Gila Bend for drinking water infrastructure improvements. Once completed, the system is expected to provide an 86% energy usage offset to the town’s RO Water Treatment Facility, resulting in significant annual electricity cost savings.

“Energy costs associated with operating a water treatment facility can account for a large portion of its total operating budget. These facilities also tend to have surrounding areas of land that are otherwise unusable,” said Jared Schoch, Vice President and General Manager, Power Plants for SOLON Corporation. “SOLON’s proven experience building systems for water and wastewater treatment facilities combined with solar being an extremely efficient use of land is a winning combination and a great way to lower a facility’s operating costs.”

“This project further exemplifies Gila Bend’s continued leadership in the emerging solar industry. Already a world leader in utility scale solar, Gila Bend continues its innovative policy making by extending its efforts to distributive energy,” said Fredrick Buss, Town Manager for Gila Bend. “Through highly qualified partners like SOLON, this project will not only enable the town to provide clean, renewable solar energy, it will also enable the town and its customers to save money on electricity costs, thereby significantly reducing the need to adjust water rates. This is a big win for our community.”

In October 2011, SOLON completed a 21 MW single-axis tracking system in Gila Bend.

For more information on SOLON, visit their website at www.solon.com.

Solar Companies - AZRE Magazine March/April 2011

The Fight To Lure Solar Companies To The Valley Is Fierce

The fight to lure solar energy companies to Arizona will be fierce in 2011, as states become more competitive in their efforts to land solar companies that are themselves battling for funding in a stagnant capital market.

“(This year) will be more competitive than 2010 because the states are feeling more pressure and the idea that we’ll emerge out of this recession soon is just falling out of people’s heads,” says Barry Broome, president of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, a major player in the efforts to bring solar and renewable energy companies to the Valley.

At least 10 renewable energy companies have located or announced plans to locate in Arizona since the state Legislature passed a tax-incentive program in 2009, Broome says. The most notable players are Chinese giant Suntech Power Holdings Co., the leading solar manufacturer in the world, and Power-One, which makes solar and wind inverter products.

Their arrival not only burnishes Arizona’s reputation as a potential leader in the effort to harness renewable energy, but also creates a burgeoning supply chain for solar energy manufacturers.

For example, United Kingdom-based FAIST GreenTek plans to open its first U.S. plant, a 56,000 SF facility in Phoenix, to provide metal steel containers for Power-One’s inverter boxes. Additionally, Spanish glass manufacturer Rioglass located to Arizona to provide materials for Abengoa’s Solana plant near Gila Bend, which is expected to be the largest concentrating solar energy power plant in the world.

“The tentacles that are caused by these companies will grow long over time,” says Eran Mahrer, director of renewable energy for Arizona Public Service, which will purchase the electricity generated at the Gila Bend site.

GPEC currently is working to lure two solar companies to the Valley, Broome says, adding, “I’m not saying we won’t see 10 companies again, but it’s much tougher. The industry is maturing and the capital markets haven’t recovered.”

He believes the market will see a roll up, or a decline in smaller, newer companies and will settle on fewer, major players.

The impact of solar companies on the commercial real estate market is significant. Solar-related companies gave a shot in the arm to Arizona’s persistently high industrial vacancy rates, says Pete Wentis, an industrial broker with CB Richard Ellis.

The second quarter of 2010 saw positive absorption in the industrial sector for the first time in a year and a half, Wentis says. By 4Q 2010, the market saw 4.4 MSF of positive absorption, which lowered the industrial vacancy rate in Maricopa County from 16.1% to 14.7%. Wentis estimates that solar companies contributed between 15% to 20% to that absorption.

The 14.7% vacancy rate means there is 40 MSF of industrial space available.

It is difficult to say whether there is enough available inventory for solar-related companies, as they don’t all require the same type of industrial space, Wentis says, adding that industrial is the most diversified of all the tenant types of space.

Solar proponents agree that Arizona is just starting to establish itself as a leader in the solar industry, but more needs to be done.

“Are we doing a good job? Yes,” Broome says. “Are we doing a great job? No. Could we be doing better? Yes.”

Factors that helped draw solar companies here and drive the production of solar generation include state tax incentives, utility incentives to customers for rooftop photovoltaic systems, a federal grant program that has been extended for one more year, and state renewable energy standards that require utilities to generate 15% of their kilowatt-hours sold from renewable sources by 2025.

Finally, the total installed cost of photovoltaics has dropped 40% in three years due to several factors, including better production, innovation, and the emergence of China into the market, says Nancy LaPlaca, a policy advisor and spokesperson for Arizona Corporation Commission commissioner Paul Newman.

Stable and well-thought-out energy policies would help the industry, Broome says, adding that the state has taken a “herky jerky” approach to renewable energy. A federal energy standard also would bring stability to the market, he adds.

The state also should discuss ways to export green energy, LaPlaca says. Currently, Arizona exports 30% of its electricity to California, but that is “brown” energy derived from coal, natural gas and nuclear.

For more information about GPEC and its efforts to bring solar companies to the Valley, visit gpec.org.

AZRE Magazine March/April 2011

Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone - AZ Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010

The Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone Opens Up Business Possibilities In The West Valley

At a time when the West Valley could use an economic boost, officials have put the finishing touches on the proposed Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone. Under the administration of WESTMARC, an acronym for Western Maricopa Coalition, this new Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) is seen as a welcome economic development tool that will spawn jobs and millions of dollars in new investment.

Participating cities are Avondale, Buckeye, El Mirage, Gila Bend, Goodyear, Peoria and Surprise. Initially, four sites in three of the cities have applied for FTZ status: two in Goodyear at Interstate 10 and Loop 303, one in Surprise near Bell Road, and one west of Buckeye in an unincorporated area. The Greater Maricopa Foreign Trade Zone is actually a series of trade zones, with each city acting independently but represented by WESTMARC.

Federal approval of WESTMARC’s application of the overall trade zone by the U.S. Department of Commerce and the Department of Homeland Security is expected before the end of the year. Launched in 1934, the federal Foreign Trade Zone program provides for reduced or eliminated federal taxes and fees in connection with imports and exports. For customs purposes, an FTZ is considered outside the United States.

Consultant Curtis Spencer, president of Houston-based IMS Worldwide, says there has been quite a bit of interest in West Valley sites from brokers looking for build-to-suit opportunities, particularly for solar and other manufacturers.

Spencer says developers generally pay the initial fee of about $50,000 to be in the FTZ depending on proposed use. Companies locating in an FTZ also pay an annual fee, but Spencer estimates the savings to a company can range from $300,000 to $1 million a year.

A typical business in an FTZ pays wages 7 percent to 8 percent more than a similar company not involved in exporting and importing, and employs 10 percent to 20 percent more workers, Spencer says.

“Foreign Trade Zone activities now exceed the statistical equivalent of imports and exports carried by truck into and out of Canada and Mexico,” Spencer says. “It’s a significant portion of our economy.”

A company in the West Valley area that decides to seek FTZ status puts in an application that will go through WESTMARC, which holds the federal permit, and on to the federal Foreign Trade Zone board. Zones are not limited to the four that have been selected. Likely candidate businesses for an FTZ range from high-tech manufacturers to distributors.

“It should give a major boost in investment and job creation,” Spencer says. “In the next 10 years we should have added hundreds of jobs and tens of millions of new investment.”

Basically, FTZs speed up the supply chain, reduce importing costs and provide better security, Spencer says.

“It’s faster, cheaper and better,” he adds.

Regarding security, companies that have been certified for FTZ status by federal authorities undergo extreme scrutiny, and therefore are not likely to be dealing with unfriendly countries or terrorist organizations. Concern over the importation of contraband has heightened since the attacks of 9/11.

Harry Paxton, economic development director for the city of Goodyear, says participating cities can use the FTZ as a marketing tool.

“It says that these communities are ready to accept businesses involved in international commerce,” he says.

Goodyear, which was among the first to express an interest in establishing an FTZ three years ago, hopes to fill some existing buildings by offering significant property tax breaks. Personal and real property taxes in an Arizona FTZ are cut by 75 percent.

But the perception that such tax reductions will have a negative impact on a city is incorrect, Paxton says. The assessed valuation of an activated FTZ reduces to 5 percent from 20 percent, but still generates additional revenue when compared to agricultural-use sites that collect $300 per 10 acres. What’s more, Paxton says, the FTZ becomes a catalyst for other development not requiring FTZ tax benefits, resulting in a full tax rate on those businesses.

“It’s a win-win,” he says. “It helps us become more competitive.”

Mitch Rosen, director of office and industrial development for SunCor Development Company, says his company owns 250 acres that will be part of the FTZ.

“The reason we’re interested is that we believe it to be an exceptional tool to stimulate the economic development of the West Valley,” he says. “It’s a good way to stimulate quality employment and it creates a competitive advantage for Arizona and the West Valley. It encourages businesses throughout the country to elect to locate in the West Valley.”

Jack Lunsford, president and CEO of WESTMARC, expects FTZs to spring up throughout the sprawling West Valley as cities become more aware of the benefits.

“We are thrilled,” he says, “to help bring this economic development tool to our West Valley communities that will assist them, especially at a time like this.”

www.imsw.com | www.suncoraz.com | www.ci.goodyear.az.us

Arizona Business Magazine Jul/Aug 2010