By Roland Murphy for Arizona Builder’s Exchange
Tech Parks Arizona and Tucson Electric Power this week issued an RFP for companies interested in taking part in Phase II of The Solar Zone.
The Solar Zone is a public-private partnership between the University of Arizona and TEP, serving as an innovation hub to test, evaluate and demonstrate solar technologies. According to the description, it was the first-of-its-kind solar research park when it was established in 2010. “It consists of 223 acres of land designed to generate 20 megawatts of power, which is nearly twice the daily electrical consumption of the Tech Park and enough to power the homes of more than 4,600 residential consumers for a year.”
Phase II will be built on 29 acres. The first project, a joint venture between TEP and E-On to demonstrate battery storage technology, has already been completed. The remaining eight acres will be subdivided to accommodate 5-10 additional projects, preferably those focused on advanced generation concepts and storage techniques.
The focus is to develop and prove technologies that mitigate shortcomings inherent to solar, such as the inability to generate power when the sun is not shining and the inherent intermittencies arising from having multiple power generation sources feeding into the grid.
“The plan is to initiate projects producing in the tens of kilowatts of power with the demonstrated capability of scaling up to the megawatt power range for use in grid power stations. This will provide a platform to directly compare different energy generation and storage technologies operating in the field under exactly the same conditions,” the document states.
The project is ideally looking for two types of companies to submit. The first is companies with established technologies that can generate power of at least 350KW. These will be assigned approximately one acre of land at the site. The second is companies looking to demonstrate emerging technologies on a smaller land scale.
Use agreements will be negotiated individually according to each company’s needs. Terms are expected to last between one and five years, but they can be negotiated for whatever term is necessary to demonstrate the value and practicality of the evaluated technology.
UA Tech Park and TEP will prepare the sites and provide maintenance, including access roads and power interconnections. The companies will be responsible for funding their projects’ designs and construction, as well as establishing and maintaining their power generation and storage systems, and for removal of the systems at the end of the demonstrations and evaluations.
The Phase II expansion schedule is:
- RFP issuance: Jan 2018;
- Solar Symposium and Preproposal Conference on Feb. 5
- Submissions due Mar. 1
- Evaluation and selection of projects during March
- Contracts negotiated in April and May, and
- Installation commencement on July 1.
The full RFP, including contact information and submission guidelines, is available here.
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