LPM Staff

We need the sun, too

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Arizona is cut out for storing solar energy, and lots of it. What better place to test solar-energy storage technology than here?

Tucson’s Solon Corp. will join forces with Tucson Electric Power Co. (TEP) and the University of Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy (AzRISE) to build a solar-energy storage technology research and testing site at the Solar Zone at UA Science and Technology Park.

Solon recently built a 1.6-megawatt, single-axis photovoltaic tracking array for TEP at Solar Zone. The research and testing site will be attached to the solar plant, where various energy storage technologies used with grid-tied photovoltaics will be tested. The goal is to provide utilities options for nights or cloudy days, when photovoltaic panels aren’t producing enough energy. 

The first phase of the project begins this month, when Solon and AzRISE install a compressed-air energy storage system designed and constructed by UA faculty and students. Solon will design and install the proprietary data and control system and oversee the project, an “open design” allowing different technologies to be added or replaced, depending on the evolution of the project. This fall, the second phase will test a lithium-ion battery storage system, with more technologies to be tested next spring in the third and fourth phases.

The Solar Zone at the UA Tech Park is a research and business park, keeping things competitive and on the cutting edge of technology. It’s the largest multiple-technology solar evaluation site in the United States, allowing various technologies to perform side by side, under identical operating conditions, so developers can determine the most efficient and economical systems for the company and Southern Arizona. For more information, visit uatechpark.org.

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