SOLON completed construction of a 459 kW photovoltaic (PV) system at the Reverse Osmosis Water Treatment Facility for the Town of Gila Bend, Arizona. The system is expected to offset the plant’s energy usage by 86 percent. The project was financed through a State of Arizona Water Infrastructure Finance Authority grant, awarded to the Town of Gila Bend for drinking water infrastructure improvements. SOLON says it has installed nearly 65 MW of solar in Arizona, and 90 MW nationwide.
With recent scale-up in both photovoltaic and concentrated thermal facilities, solar energy is nearing cost parity with wind and even some fossil generation sources. And with development models evolving to help companies manage technology risks, solar power has become an attractive investment opportunity—not just for tax-equity players, but also for utilities.
Technologies are scaling up quickly to meet industry needs.
Scott M. Gawlicki
Like other California electric utilities, San Francisco-based Pacific Gas & Electric (PG&E) has been scrambling to meet the state’s renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires suppliers to obtain at least 20 percent of their power from renewable energy sources by 2010. Though the RPS includes a variety of technologies, renewables developers are choosing utility-scale solar power more than any other resource, says Hal La Flash, PG&E’s director of emerging clean technologies.
Distributed solar modules are gaining ground on concentrated solar thermal plants.
Jonathan Lesser and Nicolas Puga
Photovoltaic technologies are beginning to appear more attractive than concentrated solar thermal plants. PV’s competitiveness is improving from technical and operational advancements, as well as significant commitments made by such utilities as Southern California Edison. In the long run, distributed central PV plants likely will gain a strong market position.
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