World’s largest parabolic trough solar plant gains US$300 million investment

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The world’s largest parabolic trough solar project, Solana, has received US$300 million of financing from business investor, Liberty Ventures Group.

The investment from Liberty Ventures, parent company of TripAdvisor and the sister company to video and ecommerce business, Liberty Interactive Corporation, has been approved by the US Department of Energy and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

The 290MW concentrating solar power (CSP) plant is now in its final testing phase, and once completed will be the first utility-scale solar plant to store energy to meet demand. Unlike other renewables, parabolic troughs can generate energy day and night using thermal energy storage. At full capacity, Solana can store energy for six hours. This storage allows clean energy to be generated and stored without intermittence. 

Solana began construction in 2010 after gaining a federal loan guarantee of US$1.45 billion. The total investment in Solana so far is US$2 billion, and the plant aims to be operating by the end of this year.

Solar technology developer, Abengoa is the managing partner, taking care of the management, operation and maintenance of Solana.  

Upon completion Solana, which spans 1,920 acres in Gila Bend, Arizona, will produce enough energy for 70,000 homes and reduce carbon emissions by half a million tonnes, compared to a natural gas plant. Solana will also reduce water consumption by 75%, compared to the amount of water used previously for agriculture.

Arizona Public Service (APS), the largest utility in Arizona has a PPA with Solana for all the electricity the plant produces.

More than 2,000 jobs have been created for the construction of Solana, with 85 permanent jobs and thousands of indirect jobs expected to be created, just through the supply chain with 165 companies across 29 states have been engaged with Solana.

Abengoa already operates 931MW of CSP, and has 710MW under construction.

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