In 2013 Arizona will be put on the Concentrating Solar Power map when Abengoa’s Solana project, one of the world’s largest CSP plants, commences operation.

Solana is a 280MW (gross) parabolic trough plant with six hours of thermal storage, and is located 70 miles southwest of Phoenix, near Gila Bend. Once operational, the power generated by Solana will be purchased by Arizona Public Service (APS), taking significant steps to meet the Arizona Corporation Commissions’ mandate that utilities provide 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025.

This aggressive Renewable Portfolio Standard in Arizona is a key factor driving the development of CSP plants in this region. Recent updates to the CSP Today global tracker have revealed that a total of 1061MW of CSP is either operating, under-construction or planned in the state.

These plants include SolarReserve’s 150MW Crossroads Solar Energy Project, also proposed to be located near the town of Gila Bend and which will utilize SolarReserve’s tower technology with thermal storage. However, unlike Solana which received a $1.45 billion loan guarantee from the Department of Energy, the Crossroads Project will face the challenge of raising finance from other sources following the termination of the Loan Guarantee program in 2012.

In addition to this, many experts have questioned the future growth potential of concentrated solar power once utilities reach their renewable portfolio requirements. In key growth states for CSP many have already raised concerns that renewable portfolio standards will come under increasing pressure amid low natural gas prices, excess power generation capacity and the cost of compliance.

In order to examine the future growth potential of CSP technologies in Arizona, CSP Today confirmed this week that the Arizona Corporation Commission will give a keynote address at CSP Today USA 2013, taking place on 26-27 June in Las Vegas.

The commission, that approved the Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff (REST) in 2006, has already had experience with CSP projects such as Solana. However, at CSP Today USA, Commissioner Bob Burns will focus on the future programs and initiatives that will continue to facilitate the development of CSP plants. In addition to this the Commissioner will provide insight into the unique challenges CSP must overcome in Arizona, including changing incentive levels and increasing competition from cheaper more established forms of energy production.

The Arizona Corporation Commission will be joined by leading utilities and developers in the US to discuss the steps CSP must take to recognize its future growth potential, including experts from BrightSource Energy and SolarReserve.

The event is set to take place on 26-27 June in Las Vegas, with over 500 delegates in attendance. For more details about the summit go to the website: