DOE has offered of a conditional commitment to Abengoa Solar Inc., Denver, for a $1.45 billion loan guarantee to finance the construction and startup of a concentrating solar power (CSP) generating facility in Solana, Ariz. President Obama announced the offer in July.
Once operational, the plant will add 250 MW of capacity to the electrical grid using parabolic trough solar collectors and the first 6-hr thermal energy storage system in the United States. The plant, located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, will use mirrors to direct sunlight onto receiver tubes that will heat molten salt fluid to more than 700°F (371°C). The system's heat will turn steam turbines, with the added benefit that thermal energy storage can provide power during cloudy days and evenings.
The Solana plant will supply clean electric power to approximately 70,000 homes through a long-term power purchase agreement with Arizona Public Service Co.Phoenix. Abengoa Solar estimates the Solana project will employ approximately 1,600 workers during construction and will create more than 80 skilled permanent jobs during operation. Additionally, two assembly factories will be constructed on the Solana site and, as a result of Solana's need for more than 900,000 mirrors, a new mirror manufacturing facility will be sited just outside Phoenix in Surprise, Ariz. The Solana project will bring the total amount of CSP supported by DOE to nearly 650 MW.