Solar Research: Exploring Storage Technologies

The Solar Zone, located within Tucson’s UATechPark, continues to grow its solar research capabilities. The recent announcement by Solon Corp. and AzRISE Director, Joe Simmons to undergo research into improved methods of energy storage demonstrate innovation with practical applications.

As the real estate broker representing space for lease at UATechPark, we are heartened by the potential for this technology to expand the delivery times of stored solar electrical energy. The expansion of research is critical to the continued growth of the Solar Zone, which comprises 6 unique solar generation technologies, and it is hoped that more research on effective solar energy storage methods will come shortly.

Solon’s technology utilizes pressurized air and storage in new lithium battery technology. Read more in the July 26, 2011 article in the Arizona Daily Star:

Tucson’s Solon Corp. seeks better ways to store energy

A new local research project aims to address such intermittency with energy-storage technologies that can help keep grid power stable and capture electricity for later use.

Tucson-based photovoltaics maker Solon Corp. is teaming up with Tucson Electric Power Co. and the University of Arizona’s Arizona Research Institute for Solar Energy (AzRISE) to build an energy storage research site at the UA Science and Technology Park.

The Energy Storage Management Research and Testing site will be hooked up to a 1.6-megawatt solar plant, recently built by Solon for owner TEP at the UA Tech Park’s Solar Zone, near South Kolb Road and Interstate 10.

The first phase of the project begins in August, when Solon and AzRISE plan to install a compressed-air energy storage (CAES) system designed and constructed by UA faculty and students.

The second phase will add a lithium-ion battery storage system this fall, followed by additional technologies in spring 2012.

The idea is to find the best storage methods to help utilities deal with voltage variations and other issues created as more large utility-scale solar farms are hooked up to the grid, said Bill Richardson, Solon director of research and development.

Storage systems also allow utilities to tap solar energy at night or during cloudy days.

But adding storage equipment to a solar-energy system adds costs that must be recouped through increased generation. And though some energy-storage technologies have proved cost-effective, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, Richardson said.

For example, battery storage can provide instant power for voltage or frequency support, while compressed-air storage is better suited to providing longer periods of backup power.

“With every (utility) customer, you have different needs and different technologies, and each one will pencil out differently,” he said.

The storage research site will help sort out those issues, starting with the UA’s compressed-air system.

Two utility-scale compressed-air plants – a 321-megawatt plant built in Germany in 1978 and a 110-MW plant built in Alabama in 1991 – prove compressed air can be cost-effective.

But the AzRISE researchers are looking to improve their efficiency, AzRISE Director Joseph Simmons said.

Continue for the full article text…

Peter Douglas, SIOR is a lifelong Tucsonan and fifth generation Arizonan. ActivePeter Douglas PICOR solar in real estate since 1982, he joined PICOR in 1987. His proficiency in design, marketing, sales, leasing and construction of industrial and mixed-use parks and business centers endows Peter’s consistent success in PICOR’s commercial sales division. 

Photo sources: Arizona Daily StarGary Rumack Photography

Tagged , , , , , ,

Let's Connect!

    Would you like to speak with a broker?

    Contact Us