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La Paz Solar Tower to be World’s Tallest Structure

By Peter Madrid for Arizona Commercial Real Estate Magazine

Photo Credit: EnviroMission

In 2013, the Western District Hensel Phelps office in Phoenix is to begin construction on a proposed $740M, 2,800-foot Solar Tower in La Paz County in western Arizona.

To appreciate the height of the Solar Tower, which is being built for EnviroMission of Australia, consider that the tallest building in Arizona is the Chase Tower in Downtown Phoenix at 483 feet. Now picture six Chase Towers stacked atop each other and you have the Solar Tower — which also has a diameter of 450 feet.

To appreciate its simplicity, here’s how it works. A 4-square-mile greenhouse will heat air and direct it up through the concrete chimney. The hot air will turn turbines to produce 200 MW of electricity, enough to power 50,000 homes.

The pricing approach for a project of this scale requires the components to be broken down into manageable subsystems that can be supported by the local, state, national and world market, Mark Watson says. Solar Tower’s components consist of a concrete tower, collector system, foundation systems, turbines, transmission and electrical infrastructure. Each of these components has been built in other applications throughout the world and are easily quantifiable. The real challenge for this project, Watson adds, is not the uniqueness of the components or design, but the logistics of corralling the various stakeholders.

Hensel Phelps also understands the importance of collaborative planning and analysis during the early stages of this challenging project, Watson says.

“We utilize proven pre-construction processes to ensure that the project will receive accurate and reliable data with regard to cost, constructability, and key systems selections to ensure EnviroMission’s is a facility that exceeds the expectations for functionality, efficiency, maintainability, and cost effectiveness for the life of the structure.”

Davey says Hensel Phelps’ experience is a key component to the Solar Tower, which will generate electricity to 10 municipal utility companies in the Southern California Public Power Authority.

The project’s significance likely will also be felt in the state’s fragile commercial real estate industry.

Adds Watson: “Part of the significance of this project is the positive impact it will have on the Arizona construction industry by maximizing the use of local subcontractors and vendors.”

Read more at AZREMagazine

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