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First of a Kind Concentrated Solar Power Plant with Thermal Storage System

First of a Kind Concentrated Solar Power Plant with Thermal Storage SystemBell Independent Power Corp., Rochester, New York, is a developer of Thermal Storage Technology for Concentrated Solar Power (CSP). Bell has chosen the UA Tech Park as the site of a new state of the art 5-MW solar plant with a Thermal Storage System that will be the first of its kind in the world.

 The role of the facility is to commercially demonstrate Bell Independent Power Corp.’s proprietary Thermal Storage System and show its ability to improve the efficiency of a facility by 50%, which drives down the cost of producing solar power. Bell has designed this system by applying its energy expertise from the nuclear power industry and 5 years of intensive Research & Development. This proprietary Thermal Storage System will be capable of storing the sun’s heat for several hours, allowing the CSP plant to generate power at cloudy times or after the sun sets. It will also provide energy for full plant startup every morning, replacing the need for natural gas. The demonstration of Thermal Storage on this facility and its economic impact will lead to its use on large scale facilities.

 “We are excited about demonstrating how our Thermal Storage System, with scale up cost efficiencies, can make solar power, more reliable, and cost competitive with fossil fuel energy,” said Joseph Bell, Jr., President of Bell Independent Power Corp. “The UA Tech Park is a good site for this facility because of their ability to accelerate permitting and will allow us access to the University of Arizona’s capabilities. We look forward to the community’s continued support through TREO and its ongoing efforts to attract economic development incentives.”

 The projected cost of the facility is $32 million and it will use 45 acres of parabolic solar mirrors to capture the solar energy. Bell Independent Power Corp. will develop, finance, own and operate the plant. Permitting has begun and, with the help of economic development incentives, the plant will begin providing power to Tucson Electric Power (TEP) customers in May 2011. The plant’s construction will employ 75 workers and 7 full time positions will be established for the operation of the facility. The CSP plant and storage system is expected to produce enough energy to power more than 1,500 typical Tucson homes while offsetting more than 16,000 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

TEP has asked the Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) to approve its plan to purchase power from the plant over a 20-year period. Upon approval, the plant will provide TEP with a significant boost of locally generated green power.

“We’re happy to support the development of this remarkable renewable energy resource right here in Tucson,” said Paul Bonavia, Chairman, President and CEO of TEP and its parent company, UniSource Energy Corporation (NYSE: UNS). “The innovative storage technology built into this plant should provide us with clean, green renewable power in the late afternoon hours when our customers’ energy usage typically reaches its peak.”

 The energy would be purchased in part with funds provided by TEP’s customers to work towards renewable energy goals established by the ACC. Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard calls on state utilities to increase their use of renewable energy each year until it represents 15 percent of their retail energy in 2025.

 The facility will be an anchor tenant of the UA Tech Park’s newly designated Solar Zone. The zone is dedicated to the creation of a competitive environment for companies in the sector to roll out current and create next generation new energy products, attract key suppliers and attract/grow talent in order to promote industry success and advancement. Companies will work not only on their own business interests but also team with the Tech Park and key regional partners to influence the solar strategy of the region.

 “The Solar Zone at the Tech Park is being designed and developed to create an environment that supports all aspects of solar development generation and distribution, research and development, manufacturing and production, workforce development and public awareness,” said Bruce Wright, Associate Vice President for the UA Office of University Research Parks. “The Solar Zone supports the key solar research initiatives of the University and is an ideal fit with BIPC’s energy generation and thermal storage systems.”

 “These two announcements today are great examples of how TREO and Tucson can offer a perfect match of real estate assets to company needs, and capitalize on our cutting edge R&D approaches,” said Joe Snell, President and CEO of TREO. “This, along with the State of Arizona’s incentives for solar companies that went into effect January 1, put us in the game to aggressively continue solar business development in Southern Arizona.”

Tags: concentrated solar, renewable, solar power, solar thermal, storage systems, thermal storage

ST Staff Writers
ST Staff Writers
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