US Solar and APS move forward with solar thermal storage technologies

US Solar, a developer of utility-scale solar energy projects, and its partner, APS, have received a grant from the US Department of Energy (DOE) to model and build two new designs for solar thermal storage technologies.

The project's goal is to reduce the cost of storing solar thermal energy.

The $4.35 million project will be directed by US Solar from Tucson, with modeling occurring at the University of Arizona. The final phase of the project will be a full-scale working energy storage plant integrated with APS' existing Saguaro Solar Power Plant, located 30 minutes north of Tucson in Red Rock, Ariz.

While the DOE awarded grants to more than a dozen groups to study solar thermal storage technology, the Arizona-based initiative will be one of only three to be fully integrated with a working power plant. US Solar and APS also will receive help from Arizona State University, Georgia Institute of Technology and two Phoenix companies, Klondyke Construction and Ironco Enterprises.

Earlier this year, the utility shared plans for the Solana Generating Station. The 280-megawatt CSP plant, which will utilise thermal storage, is scheduled to be operational in 2011.

When APS, Arizona's largest and longest-serving electricity utility, built Saguaro in 2005, it marked the first CSP plant in Arizona and the first to be built in the US in nearly 20 years.