Solar Energy | Approval Granted For Quartzsite Power Plant in Arizona

A proposed 100 MW solar power plant near Quartzsite, Arizona has recently been given the green light by federal government. The proposed project is a concentrating solar power plant that will use SolarReserve’s concentrating solar power technology and, according to the Bureau of Land Management the project could begin construction in 2014 and be operational by 2015.

The facility will also be equipped with an integral thermal energy storage system and will consist of sun-tracking heliostats that will direct the sunlight onto a central receiver. The receiver will hold liquid salt which will circulate as a means of collecting the energy. The storage process takes place when the molten salt is then routed to an insulated storage tank where minimal energy loss takes place.

Benefits of the Quartzsite Solar Power Project

According to Quartzsite there are three key benefits met by the facility:

  • It will help meet the need for clean, renewable energy sources.
  • It will incorporate energy storage to enable the facility to meet peak electricity demands and provide operational stability.
  • It will boost the local economy thanks to the creation of 450 construction jobs and then up to 50 permanent jobs. It will also generate significant tax revenues that will be retained by the local region.

On the point of the economic impact the project will have on the area, it is expected to create local economic stimulus in the form of $15.7 million in sales tax during the construction period, with construction spending injecting another $46.3 million into the local and regional economy.

More Approvals Required

Although this latest approval by the DOI is a positive step towards the proposed project becoming a reality there are further steps still to be taken.

Accorder to SolarReserve’s director of development Andrew Wang, the project will come online in late 2015 at the earliest, even if the purchase agreements were secured tomorrow.

According to the Bureau of Land Management estimates can power over 300,000 homes. The site is perfect because of the flatness of the terrain as well as the amount of sunlight that it routinely gets. It is also close to existing power transmission lines.

There are a couple of factors about the siting of the project that has ensured the agreement from environmental advocates. The project will be put on land that is old agricultural and previously developed. Also the process of cooling the solar panels will involve “dry cooling” rather than “wet cooling”. This is seen to be a positive due to the scarcity of water in Arizona.

Further Reading

Follow the links provided below to find out more about the Quartzsite Solar Energy Project

Quartzsite Solar – The official website of the project
SolarReserve – Developer of the Quartzsite Solar Project
BLM – Bureau of Land Management
DOI Announcement – The press release in which the Quartzsite project is mentioned

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