The race to build the world's biggest solar power plant heats up
By David Greig
May 25, 2009
May 26, 2009 The race to build the world’s largest solar power plant continues with Arizona Public Service and Starwood Energy Group Global LLC unveiling plans for a 290-megawatt concentrating solar plant in the Harquahala Valley, 75 miles west of Phoenix. As one of the largest solar plants in the world Starwood Solar I will produce enough electricity to power more than 73,000 homes and is scheduled for completion by 2013.
Solar I will be designed and built by aeronautics giant Lockheed Martin on about 1,900 acres, using a concentrating solar power system. This use mirrors and tracking systems to focus a large area of sunlight into a small beam. Solar I will have 3,500 parabolic mirrors to capture the sun's rays. Heat captured by the mirrors and transferred will be used to convert water into steam. Just like a traditional power plant, the steam is then used to drive the plant’s turbines to create electricity. By storing energy captured during the day, up to six hours of back-up power will be available in a molten salt solution.
Principals at Starwood Energy and its affiliates have developed or acquired 37 power generation and transmission projects to date, valued at more than USD$12 billion. This is the third major solar power announcement for APS this month. Earlier it had announced the APS Community Power Project in Flagstaff and a new solar project providing energy at the Grand Canyon.
This is APS' second agreement to buy energy sourced from a concentrating solar plant. In February 2008, APS signed an agreement with Abengoa Solar to buy energy from the to-be-built 280-megawatt Solana Solar plant. With Solana, Starwood Solar I and other contractual agreements, APS expects to have 800 megawatts of energy in its renewable energy portfolio by 2014.
This will be enough energy for nearly 250,000 customers, says APC. The project exceeds the requirements of the Arizona Corporate Commission's Renewable Energy Standard and requires the ACC's approval.
“With Starwood Solar I, Solana and our other projects, APS will provide more solar electricity per customer than any utility in the country,” says Don Brandt, chairman and chief executive officer at APS. "The company has more than 157 megawatts of energy coming from a variety of renewable sources, including concentrating solar, photovoltaic solar, wind, biomass and geothermal, mostly through purchase power agreements, like the one just signed with Starwood Energy."
The race to build the world's biggest networks of solar power plants also continues apace, with Australia’s Prime Minister, Mr Kevin Rudd, recently announcing plans to build a 1000-megawatt network, about 200 megawatts larger than the APS network.
For more information, visit Starwood Energy Group LLC.