Electric power holding company Duke Energy has announced the acquisition of a 6MW commercial solar project located within the University of Arizona's (UA) Science and Technology Park solar zone in Tucson.
The company purchased the Gato Montes Solar Power Project, expected to reach commercial operation within the next week, from AstroSol.
Last year, AstroSol Tech Park AZ, a subsidiary of AstroSol, received approval for a US$13.15 million loan for the construction of the plant from the North American Development Bank and the Border Environment Cooperation Commission.
Construction of the thin-film plant on 15.6 hectares of land began last year by vis-solis, US subsidiary of Solmotion. The project consists of 48,000 PV panels and is Duke Energy Renewables' twelfth wholly-owned commercial solar project in the US.
“Gato Montes is our fifth solar power project in Arizona in the past two years,” said Duke Energy Renewables President Greg Wolf. “In fact, we'll have 37MW of solar energy in production in Arizona by the end of the year, representing more than half of the 67MW in our growing portfolio of solar projects nationwide.”
The solar PV thin-film, amorphous silicon technology used in the Gato Montes project is a first in the Duke Energy Renewables fleet. It is also unique at the UA Tech Park, where various solar projects are being tested under identical operating conditions to evaluate the most beneficial technology for solar energy production in the Southwest.
The Solar Zone features 23MW of solar power generation using multiple technologies as well as research and development facilities for energy storage and other new solar technologies.
The UA Tech Park is claimed to contribute US$2.7 billion annually to Pima County's economy. It is one of the region's largest employment centres hosting 50 businesses and organisations that employ 7,000 people.
“The Gato Montes installation is an excellent example of cutting-edge technology,” said Bruce Wright, UA Associate Vice President for university research parks. “We are proud of our partnership with this project as it complements the mix of solar technology showcased at the UA Tech Park's Solar Zone.”
The UA Tech Park is working in collaboration with Tucson Electric Power (TEP) to advance the solar zone that supports the development of the solar industry in the region. TEP will buy all of the electricity from the project under a 20-year agreement.