Storing the Concentrating Solar Power

Yesterday, Secretary Chu announced that a $1.45 billion loan guarantee has been finalized for Abengoa Solar Inc.’s Solana concentrated solar energy project, the first large-scale solar thermal plant in the United States capable of storing energy it generates.

This storage capacity allows Solana to bank energy that would normally go unused for times of peak demand, making Solar a more dependable source of energy.

Located near Gila Bend, Arizona, the 250-megawatt (MW) concentrated solar energy project will be the world’s largest parabolic trough concentrating solar power plant, producing enough energy to serve 70,000 households and eliminate the emissions of 475,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year compared to a natural gas burning power plant.

The benefits of this new solar thermal plant extend well beyond the obvious environmental considerations. It’s estimated that the Solana concentrated solar energy  project will also create between 1,600 to 1,700 new construction jobs and more than 60 permanent jobs in Arizona and in neighboring states. Additionally, in order to accommodate the project’s need for over 900,000 mirrors, a mirror manufacturing facility will be built outside of Phoenix, creating additional investments in Arizona’s economy.

Secretary Chu summarized the impact of this project during his announcement yesterday: "As the world’s largest solar plant of its kind, the Abengoa’s Solana project is playing an important role in creating jobs and clean energy for Arizona as well as fostering innovation in the U.S."

John Schueler is a New Media Specialist with the Office of Public Affairs.