26 August 2010


Arizona Corporation Commission endorses Emcore and Amonix CPV projects for ‘Solar Zone’

Arizona Corporation Commission (ACC) says that, in less than a year, The Solar Zone at the University of Arizona Science & Technology Park (UA Tech Park) has moved from an on-paper concept to a bustling, solar-centric business zone that is advancing solar energy innovation and production.

The Solar Zone is the intended site of four of the 10 new solar power projects developed through contracts with Tucson Electric Power (TEP) that were endorsed this week by the ACC. The projects will combine with two previously announced systems to expand the Solar Zone’s total solar generating capacity to nearly 20MW, making it one of the largest contiguous solar facilities in the USA. Together, the systems should generate enough energy to power more than 4600 Tucson homes annually.

The four new Solar Zone tenants join Bell IPC (announced in January). Site preparation and construction, valued at about $2m, begins in September.

The new projects include:

• Connecticut-based CTC Electric, which plans a 5MW, fixed photovoltaic installation;

• Emcore Corp of Albuquerque, NM (a manufacturer of compound semiconductor-based components and subsystems for the fiber optics and solar power markets), which plans a 2MW concentrated photovoltaic (CPV) system;

• Foresight – Solar Point LLC (a joint venture of Foresight Solar LLC and Solar Point Partners LLC with corporate offices in San Francisco, CA and a development office in Flagstaff, AZ), which will develop a solar facility of about 5MW; and

• Amonix Inc of Seal Beach, CA, USA (a manufacturer of utility-scale CPV systems using III-V multi-junction cells), which will build a 2MW CPV system project.

ACC says that the Solar Zone will provide TEP with a unique opportunity to evaluate different types of solar power systems, including a 5MW concentrating solar thermal power plant with integrated storage being built by Bell Independent Power Corporation of Rochester, NY, under a previously approved contract with the utility. TEP will also own and operate a 1.6MW single-axis tracking PV array being developed at the Solar Zone this year by solar system manufacturer and integrator Solon of Tucson, AZ.

“We’ll be able to track how these technologies perform side by side, under identical operating conditions, to determine which systems work best for our company and our customers,” says Paul Bonavia, chairman, president & CEO of TEP and its parent company UniSource Energy Corp. “The Solar Zone is becoming a valuable resource as we work to establish TEP as a renewable energy leader,” he adds.

“The selection of the Solar Zone by these cutting-edge power producers is significant validation of our vision to bring different aspects of the solar industry together in a supportive and competitive environment,” says University of Arizona president Robert N. Shelton. “The Solar Zone has created an exceptional atmosphere that dovetails with UA's core mission of access, quality and discovery,” he adds. “The Solar Zone’s rapid acceptance and movement from concept to construction is impressive confirmation of the need for and viability of The Solar Zone,” Shelton concludes.

“Tucson is home to one of the best solar-resource locations in the USA... The U of A Solar Zone, along with Tucson Electric Power, presented a working arrangement that is supportive of rapid deployment of new solar power technologies,” comments Emcore’s chief operating officer Christopher Larocca. “Tucson Electric has been very aggressive incorporating innovative technologies into their renewable energy portfolio,” he adds. “We appreciate the Arizona Board of Regent's efforts to support renewable energy technologies, the U of A Solar Zone demonstration and the selection of Emcore’s solar technology.”

“With five new solar projects locating here establishes The Solar Zone at the UA Tech Park as the largest multi-tenant, multi-technology demonstration site in the nation,” reckons Bruce Wright, UA’s associate VP for University Research Parks. “TEP’s selection of our site demonstrates that the Solar Zone is the ideal environment to create, test and deploy current and future solar technologies.”

“With 350 days of Tucson sun and all the attributes of this solar-centric business zone, this is an optimal setting for solar energy generation,” reckons Amy LeGere, Foresight Solar Director of Development. Likewise, Amonix says that its proven CPV systems suit sunny and dry climates like Tucson, claiming that its systems use no water in power production, use land better and generate more energy per acre than any other solar technology.

“A comprehensive, integrated solar park at this level does not exist elsewhere,” believes John D. Grabo, UA Tech Park’s director of business development. Of the UA Tech Park’s 1345 acres, 222 are designated as the Solar Zone. Grabo expects further manufacturers, researchers, start-up companies, and educational institutions to be attracted to the Solar Zone.

The Solar Zone will feature a demonstration garden and public awareness center that will display how solar power works, how it can be used, and how it helps the environment. Its education goal will extend to on-site classrooms where local institutions can develop workforce training programs with industry input for solar energy-related jobs, such as technicians and installers.

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