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Nov. 21, 2013

Washington Gas Energy to Add Solar Array in UA Tech Park

By Balazs Szekely, Associate Editor

Washington Gas Energy Systems Inc. recently announced a commitment with Tucson Electric Power to establish a one-megawatt solar array.

The facility will be owned and operated by Washington Gas Energy Systems, which is an affiliate of Washington Gas Light Co., under a 20-year power purchase agreement with TEP.

The electric utility company announced a Request for Proposal for the installation not long ago. Cogenra Solar developed and designed the project and will manage procurement and construction.

The project, Cogenra Solar’s largest so far, will be constructed at Solar Zone within the University of Arizona’s Science & Technology Park. Developers anticipate completion by April. The plant will be based on Cogenra’s ground-mounted T14 systems. These combine high-efficiency silicon photovoltaic cells and a single-axis horizontal tracker with proprietary low-concentration optics. Cogenra’s solar cells include mirrors that concentrate the sunlight. Thanks to this technology, more electricity can be generated with fewer units, occupying less space. The levelized cost of electricity is also lowered this way by up to 20 percent compared to conventional PV systems. “Cogenra’s latest generation product T14 offers the lowest installed cost solar system out there and we are very excited to be working with TEP and the Solar Zone on our first MW-scale project,” Gilad Almogy, CEO and founder of Cogenra Solar said in a statement for the press.

Arizona’s Renewable Energy Standard and Tariff requires electric utilities to gradually increase their output of renewable energy each year to meet the 15 percent benchmark by 2025, and the expansion to come will help TEP to reach or even exceed this level. Upon completion of the new project, Solar Zone will generate 23 megawatts of power in total, and the added 1,986 megawatt-hours per year the new cells are expected to produce should be enough to serve the electrical needs of about 180 homes in Tucson.

Illustration courtesy of Thecyrgroup via Wikimedia Commons

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