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Concentrating Solar Power

First commercial-scale SunCatcher facility to be built in Arizona


SunCatchers take energy from the sun and convert it into grid quality power. Photo by Stirling Energy Systems

The first commercial-scale solar facility to be built using the SunCatcher concentrating solar-thermal technology will rise in Arizona.

Tessera Solar, the sister company of SunCatcher maker Stirling Energy Systems, and major Arizona utility Salt River Project (SRP) has unveiled plans to partner on a 1.5-megawatt (MW) solar project in Peoria, Arizona, located at the West Valley of the greater Phoenix area. The project is called the Maricopa Solar Plant.

The project, which is expected to break ground in September, will employ 40 to 50 construction workers. It is expected to be completed in January 2010 and will be operated by Tessera Solar under a 10-year agreement with SRP.

The project will consist of 60 SunCatcher dishes, a technology developed and manufactured by Arizona-based Stirling Energy Systems.

The SunCatcher system uses precision mirrors attached to a parabolic dish to concentrate the sun’s energy onto a high-efficiency Stirling engine. Each dish can generate up to 25,000 watts of power to produce 1.5 MW of electricity.

The SunCatcher is water efficient, requiring no water for heating or cooling and only a minimal amount to wash the mirrors.

Under test conditions, the SunCatcher has set a solar-to-grid system conversion efficiency record of 31.25%.
Designed, engineered and tested in the US, the SunCatcher uses automotive supply chain manufacturing techniques for high‐volume production through an assembly line process. More than 90% of the SunCatcher components will be manufactured in North America.

Tessera Solar will lease the land from SRP, which will purchase the solar energy generated at the site. The plant will help fulfil SRP’s sustainable portfolio goal of meeting 15% of its retail energy needs with sustainable energy by 2025.

In addition, the 1.5-MW plant will allow SRP to have first‐hand experience with the SunCatcher technology’s performance and integration into the grid.


-   Katrice R. Jalbuena



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