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Arizona, already a dominant force in the solar sector, is adding another $1 billion solar plant to its repertoire. The state just struck a deal with Albiasa Solar to build the 200-megawatt concentrated solar facility near Kingman, Ariz. — a city in the northwest part of the state very close to the California and Nevada borders.
The good news for Kingman and local residents is that the project should deliver 2,000 construction jobs and more than 100 permanent jobs in the plant itself. The 1,400-acre site will be the first American soil that Spanish company Albiasa will be working with. Its other photovoltaic plants are located in Spain. The company says this new plant would be able to power 60,000 homes in the surrounding area.
Arizona has already dipped its toe into concentrated solar with a 250-megawatt plant in the works with Abengoa Solar. Concentrated solar systems are fairly different from typical solar arrays. They use mirrors to aim sunlight at tubes of liquid, which are then naturally heated to high temperatures. The liquid is transferred to another area where it is used to evaporate water and turn steam turbines.
The Albiasa plant has yet to finalize contracts with any Arizona utilities in particular. While the Abengoa facility sells its power to Arizona Public Service, the energy generated by the Kingman plant may even be distributed in Nevada and California. Southern California Edison and Pacific Gas & Electric have been rumored as potential partners, but nothing is confirmed yet.
There is some concern that Arizona doesn’t yet have the infrastructure necessary to transmit the energy produced by the Kingman plant. But the state has hefty incentive to remedy this problem. If it can get enough solar plants up and running by next year, it should qualify for a generous chunk of the stimulus funding allocated for renewable energy sources under the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act — and the jobs that will surely follow.
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