The ACC rules now require utilities in Arizona to provide an Integrated Resources Plan (IRP) for an open and comprehensive resource planning process that now requires all types of future power plant resources to be ‘fairly considered’ providing renewable energy with a more level playing field with fossil fuel generators.
Under the rules utilities will be required to quantify and consider environmental costs associated with using various fuel resources, including water; factors not always taken into account in the power station approval process.
Less than one percent of Arizona’s electricity is currently generated form solar power.
Power station viability has tended to be considered in terms of economic viability to favor developments that benefit from previously commercialised technology, regardless of environmental drawbacks. These rules will now factor in aspects that are expected to promote the use of cleaner renewable energy resources in Arizona.
"Arizona’s new rules will favorably benefit EnviroMission’s Solar Tower ‘pipeline development’ plans and prospects in Arizona because the environmental benefits of clean waterless solar powered electricity will be advantaged for meeting the States IRP rules.
"Arizona’s push to create a level playing field in energy utility planning will support solar entrants, including EnviroMission.
"The fair consideration objective of the rules will now place pressure on fossil fuel generators to cost fuel stock, including water, for the first time" said EnviroMission’s Chief Executive Roger Davey.
The rules are intended to attract more solar energy jobs to Arizona and jumpstart the State’s ‘in-state’ solar energy industry.
The Southern California Public Power Authority (SCPPA) recently approved a landmark Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to buy green electricity from EnviroMission’s first Solar Tower planned for development in Arizona; the ACC rule changes are expected to positively impact Solar Tower development in Arizona.
Arizona currently gets 49% of its electricity from coal, 29% from natural gas, 17% from nuclear and 5% from hydro, less than one percent of Arizona’s electricity currently comes from solar.
EnviroMission’s 100% owned US subsidiary, EnviroMission (USA), Inc is based in Phoenix, Arizona with plans to develop two Solar Tower power stations in the State’s North West.
Two land applications for Solar Tower development are filed with the Arizona State Land Department.
EnviroMission started work on development back in 2001 with a search for the best possible site for the world’s first Solar Tower power station.
A site was selected at Buronga in the southwest corner of New South Wales, on a former wheat and cattle station known in the district as Tapio Station, 23km north of Mildura. Tapio Station is mostly flat to undulating, semi arid and has the necessary solar radiation levels in close proximity to transmission grids.
EnviroMission has an option to purchase Tapio Station subject to the necessary land use changes and planning approvals being met.
Mildura is a major regional city with a population in excess of 50,000. It is has a regional airport, district hospital, universities, service industries, good housing stock and civil infrastructure being important considerations for successful integration of large infrastructure developments.
EnviroMission has maintained ongoing community consultation in Mildura and Buronga and has received strong support in favor of a Solar Tower being developed in the area.
Close to 15% of EnviroMission’s shareholders live in the district, whilst the broader community has generally expressed encouragement for the project and the anticipated economic benefit expected to flow into the region as a result of development.
The region also forms an axis of the borders of three Australian States; Victoria, New South Wales, and South Australia.
Whilst EnviroMission now expects the first Solar Tower will be developed in the USA, it is felt international development will provide important leverage to increase development prospects in Australia. EnviroMission is seeking the strongest business case for development, and conditions in the USA support development ahead of Australia at this time.
EnviroMission commenced development of the European version of the concept known as the Solar Chimney under the terms of an exclusive licence with global developer, SolarMission Technologies, Inc.
The Solar Tower Project
EnviroMission’s inspirational program to adapt and improve Solar Tower technology for Global market conditions and construct the world’s first large-scale solar thermal power station is set to deliver a renewable energy solution that will also be a destination and extreme engineering icon.
The scale of the first 200MW power station will capture worldwide attention and attract significant added value through tourism and agribusiness.
A single 200MW Solar Tower power station will provide enough electricity to power around 100,000 typical American households, or remove the equivalent of 220,000 motor vehicles from the roads.
The energy output will represent an annual saving of more than 900,000 tonnes of greenhouse CO2 gases from entering the environment, with an outstanding Life Cycle Analysis of 2.5 years.
The Australian Solar Tower project has of six distinct phases:
* Project optimization (completed)
* Pre-Feasibility Commercialisation (completed)
* Final Feasibility (underway)
* Final Design and Construction
* Commercial Operation
EnviroMission is currently in the final feasibility phase of development which involves collaboration and project partnering to validate the economics of the project. The collaborative approach has also been central to harnessing critical technical expertise and resources to further progress the development of the technology in Australia.
The sun’s radiation is used to heat a large body of air under an expansive collector zone, which is then forced by the laws of physics (hot air rises) to move as a hot wind through large turbines to generate electricity. A Solar Tower power station will create the conditions to cause hot wind to flow continuously through 32 x 6.25MW pressure staged turbines to generate electricity.
One of the major advantages of a Solar Tower over other renewable and traditional coal & nuclear energy producers is a Solar Tower does not use any water in the energy production process.
A US Department of Energy report ‘Reducing water consumption of concentrated solar power electrictity generation’, states coal, nuclear and heliostat CSP technology (power tower) utilize approximatley 500 gallons of water per MWh of power produced. The Solar Tower project earmarked for Arizona will abate the approximate usage of 528 million gallons of potable water (drinking water) per annum.’
Small Scale Pilot Plant
Solar Tower technology has been tested and proven with a successful small-scale pilot plant constructed in Manzanares Spain. The pilot project was the result of collaboration between the Spanish Government and the German designers, Schlaich Bergermann and Partner.
The plant operated for seven years between 1982 and 1989, and consistently generated 50kW output of green energy.
The pilot plant conclusively proved the concept works and provided data for design modifications to achieve greater commercial and economic benefits associated with an increased scale of economy.
Solar Chimney technology as it was proposed was designed by leading civil and light weight structural engineer, Professor Jorg Schlaich, a founding partner of the acclaimed Stuttgart based structural engineering firm Schlaich Bergermann and Partner.
Schlaich Bergermann and Partner are renowned for designing and engineering a range of structures, including major buildings, large span bridges, stadiums and previously unimagined styles of roofs. Their groundbreaking designs maintain a balance between aesthetics and function and have become an international benchmark for structural design standards.
Some projects of significance are:
* Munich Olympics Stadium
* Ting Kau Bridge in Hong Kong
* Montreal Olympic Stadium
Engineering secondment from Schlaich Bergermann Solar provided technical support to the Australian project.
Schlaich Bergermann and Partner credentials and major projects can viewed at www.sbp.de
Development in Australia.
Australia is a superior location for a Solar Tower power station development. Australia boasts vast areas of high solar radiation levels, geological stability and low land costs with many suitable terrains to successfully operate a Solar Tower power station.
A range of suitable sites have been identified within close proximity to Australia’s national electricity grid for commercially viable transmission of a Solar Tower’s clean green power – EnviroMission has already exercised its option to purchase its preferred site for the world’s first Solar Tower power station at Buronga, in the Wentworth Shire of New South Wales.
Australia’s leading construction and operating standards will ensure the project meets the highest engineering standards which is an important consideration for future export of the technology.
The Australian community is environmentally aware and wants projects that will address concerns about the ongoing damage to the environment. Government support and incentives for renewable energy is increasing through positive review and legislation.