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World’s largest solar plant enters commercial operation

The world’s largest parabolic trough solar plant entered commercial operation in the US this week. It is also the first solar plant in the US with thermal energy storage which allows electricity to be produced at night.

Abengoa’s Solana Generating Station in Arizona uses Concentrating Solar Power (CSP) technology with solar thermal storage.

Arizona Public Service (APS) will purchase the full output from Solana for its customers, adding to the company’s already substantial solar portfolio.

“Solana is a game-changer in that it is a large-scale solar power plant that continues to produce electricity even after the sun goes down, using an innovative process that is new to the United States,” said Don Brandt, APS president and ceo.

The ability to generate electricity when needed is one of the unique characteristics of the CSP technology versus other types of renewables. The solar thermal storage also eliminates intermittency issues that other renewables, such as wind and photovoltaics, contend with, providing stability to the grid and thus increasing the value of the energy generated by CSP.

The total investment of the plant is approximately $2bn and during financing, Solana received a federal loan guarantee for $1.45bn from the United States Department of Energy Federal Loan Guarantee Program.

APS | North America | Renewable energy

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