Only four months after breaking ground, Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy Systems (SES) recently showcased the highly anticipated Maricopa Solar power plant, which is the first commercial project for the SunCatcher concentrating solar power (CSP) technology.
“The opening of Maricopa Solar is a significant milestone for our companies and for the solar industry,” said Bob Lukefahr, Tessera Solar North America CEO. “Maricopa Solar represents a genuine breakthrough in solar energy and demonstrates that Stirling dish solar power is now ready for commercial deployment in the US and around the world. With this milestone now behind us we look forward to breaking ground on our initial 1,500 MW of projects in California and Texas later this year.”
Source: Renewable Energy Magazine
Designed and manufactured by SES, the innovative and highly-efficient SunCatcher system used in the Maricopa Solar CSP plant is a 25-kilowatt solar power system which uses a 38-foot, mirrored parabolic dish combined with an automatic tracking system to collect and focus the sun’s energy onto a Stirling engine to convert the solar thermal energy into grid-quality electricity. Maricopa Solar is comprised of 60 SunCatcher dishes and will provide 1.5 megawatts of renewable energy to SRP customers in Greater Phoenix, Arizona.
“The SunCatcher represents the next generation of grid-quality solar power technology providing clean, reliable and cost-effective solar power to address global climate change and reduce our planet’s carbon emissions,” said Steve Cowman, Stirling Energy Systems CEO.
The electricity generated by Maricopa Solar will be purchased by Phoenix power utility, SRP. “Through partnerships such as Maricopa Solar, we will be able to learn a great deal about this emerging solar technology while helping to create green jobs, economic development opportunities and clean energy for SRP and our customers,” said SRP’s Associate General Manager, Richard Hayslip. “The Maricopa Solar project is just one example of SRP’s commitment to building a renewable energy portfolio that is beneficial to our environment and customers.”
According to SES, SunCatcher has a number of advantages including the highest solar-to-grid electric efficiency, zero water use for power production, a modular and scalable design, low capital cost, and minimal land disturbance.
It was designed and developed in America, through a public-private partnership with the US Department of Energy and the SunCatchers unveiled at Maricopa Solar were manufactured and assembled in North America, mostly in Michigan by automotive suppliers.
Utility-scale projects next
High-volume manufacturing of the SunCatcher begins in Summer 2010 and Tessera Solar breaks ground on utility-scale projects using this system late this year in California and Texas. Imperial Valley is a 750 MW project with the first 300 MW contracted under a Power Purchase Agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric near El Centro, California; Calico is a 850 MW project with Southern California Edison near Barstow, California; and Western Ranch is a 27 MW project with CPS Energy in West Texas.
SES estimates that manufacturing of SunCatcher components and construction of these projects will create up to 4,000 jobs in the near term, both in the Midwest, where SES’s automotive supply chain base originates, and in the Southwest where projects will be developed.