- Category: Solar
08 Aug 2011
- Published on Monday, 08 August 2011 03:37
- Hits (1050)
By Oliver M. Bayani
Australia’s EnviroMission Ltd. chose construction services contractor Hensel Phelps Construction Co. to build the world’s first solar thermal power plant using the company’s Solar Tower technology in the United States.
Hensel Phelps will construct the first half of the proposed 400 megawatt Solar Tower power station in La Paz County, Arizona for EnviroMission for an undisclosed sum.
The facility is currently waiting for a Certificate of Environmental Compatibility permit, filed at the Arizona Power Plant and Transmission Line Siting Committee in November last year, to move on with other construction permits.
A Solar Tower power plant generates electricity by heating air underneath a canopy roof installed at the base of a tall chimney. The heated air flows towards turbines installed at the base of the chimney which generates electricity before being expelled from the chimney top.
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The first half of the project will generate a total of 200 megawatts through the use of 32 turbines capable of generate 6.25 MW each.
The technique, called solar updraft technology is still new for the solar thermal industry. Today, the mainstream technology in this category is called concentrating solar power, which uses the sun’s rays to heat special liquids that generate steam.
EnviroMission said the Solar Tower power station will provide enough electricity to power around 100,000 households while avoiding more than 900,000 tons of carbon dioxide per year from entering the atmosphere.
Hensel Phelps, headquartered in Colarado is one of the largest contractors in the United States staffed by 2,100 employees with annual construction revenues exceeding $3 billion. Its previous work is not specifically for renewable energy projects but is equally demanding.
It includes the renovation of the Pentagon, rocket launch facilities at Cape Canaveral and Vandenberg Air Force Base and Embassy projects in Berlin, Germany and Cape Town, South Africa.
EnviroMission initially planned to build the project in Buronga in the southwest corner of New South Wales, Australia in 2001. It eventually decided to go with the United States, saying it provided a stronger business case for development from available renewable energy incentives in place, according to statement.
The state has recently signed three solar-related bills, two of which directly benefit solar developers. House Bill 2336 gives cities and counties authority to create special incentives and taxing districts while Senate Bill 1403 provides incentives for solar manufacturers to locate in Arizona.
Arizona has a renewable energy standard, a law saying that it has to source15 percent of its energy needs by 2025 from renewable energy, including solar thermal. To help the state have more projects, the government set out programs like a tax credit program of up to 10 percent of the total investment a company spends in a project until 2016.
The first solar updraft power plant was also from EnviroMission built in 1982 in Manzanares, Spain. It was a small-scale pilot plant which ran for 7 years with a capacity of 50 kilowatts built by the Spanish government and German designers Schlaich Bergermann and partner.