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Big US Solar Plans by Spanish Company

Page history last edited by PBworks 14 years, 6 months ago

Acciona Plans Bigger Solar Thermal Plant in US


US: November 12, 2007


NEW YORK - Acciona Energy, which this year opened the largest solar thermal plant built in 16 years, plans a project more three times its size in a desert in the US West, its CEO said in an interview.



The company, a division of construction and energy company Acciona of Spain, started up Nevada Solar One, a US$266 million 64 megawatt plant in Boulder City, Nevada and now plans to build a 200 MW plant in about three years.

"We will build another, larger solar thermal plant in the US in the 2010 time-frame," Peter Duprey, Acciona Energy's CEO told Reuters in an interview in New York.


Duprey said US power generation from solar thermal, which generates electricity with centralized solar power plants in very sunny places like deserts, should overtake by 2017 power generated by solar photovoltaic (PV) panels that go on individual homes throughout the country.


"The US has this vast solar resource in the Southwest that makes solar thermal a lot more of an interesting play than solar PV," he said.


Acciona owns both solar thermal and solar PV farms. Duprey said power generated by solar thermal costs about 15 cents per kilowatt hour, or about half the cost power from panels.


The company has draw up a short list of states in which to build the new 200 MW plant -- New Mexico, Arizona and Nevada -- Duprey said.


He said if the plant was built in Arizona it could sell some of its power to California, which has clamped down on greenhouse gas emissions and has ruled against importing power from out of state coal-fired power plants. It could also generate power for the rapidly-growing Phoenix, Arizona region, he said.


The Nevada Solar One plant has three equity investors including Wells Fargo & Co, an affiliate of Northern Trust,, and JP Morgan Chase's JPMorgan Capital Corp. Duprey said the plant will pay for itself in about 10 years.


He said financing could look similar for the new plant. "Our CFO has spent a lot of time working with the banks," he said.


Solar thermal plants use thousands of glass mirrors that concentrate energy from the sun on special tubes. That makes steam to drives a conventional turbine generator to make electricity.


The plants are mostly made out of glass and steel, materials that are more readily available than refined silicon, an active ingredient for most solar PV panels. A shortage of refined silicon, which is energy intensive to make, has slowed development of that industry.


(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Marguerita Choy)




Story by Timothy Gardner




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