Tessera Solar & Stirling Energy Systems Unveil First Commercial Scale Plant

NTR plc has announced the official opening of the Maricopa Solar power plant in Phoenix, Arizona. Four months after breaking ground, NTR’s Tessera Solar and Stirling Energy Systems (SES) unveiled the 1.5-megawatt (MW) project for key partners, stakeholders and media. Maricopa Solar is the first commercial project for the SunCatcher concentrating solar power (CSP) technology designed and manufactured by SES.

“This is a landmark achievement for our solar businesses,” said Jim Barry, CEO of NTR. “We are pleased that following our initial investment in April 2008, the hard work and commitment of the Tessera Solar and SES management teams has resulted in the first commercial scale SunCatcher generated solar power plant and the achievement of one of NTR’s key strategic investment goals.”

The SES SunCatcher is a 25 kilowatt solar power system which uses a 38 foot, mirrored parabolic dish combined with an automatic tracking system to collect and focus the sun’s energy onto a Stirling engine to convert the solar thermal energy into grid quality electricity. Maricopa Solar is comprised of 60 SunCatcher dishes and will energy to Salt River Project (SRP) customers in Greater Phoenix, Arizona.

“The opening of Maricopa Solar is a significant milestone for our companies and for the solar industry,” said Bob Lukefahr, Tessera Solar North America’s CEO. “Maricopa Solar represents a genuine breakthrough in solar energy and demonstrates that Dish Stirling solar power is now ready for commercial deployment in the US and around the world. With this milestone now behind us we look forward to breaking ground on our initial 1,500 megawatts of projects in California and Texas later this year.”

The SunCatcher was designed and developed in America, through a public private partnership with the U.S. Department of Energy. The SunCatchers unveiled at Maricopa Solar were manufactured and assembled in North America, mostly in Michigan by automotive suppliers. High volume manufacturing of the SunCatcher begins in Summer 2010 and Tessera Solar breaks ground on utility scale projects late this year in California and Texas.

The first project in the Imperial Valley is a 750 MW project with the first 300 MW contracted under a power purchase agreement with San Diego Gas & Electric near El Centro, California. The second project, Calico, is an 850 MW project with Southern California Edison near Barstow, California; and Western Ranch is a 27 MW project with CPS Energy in West Texas.

To get a look at the project and to hear more from Lukefahr about the companies’ future plans, watch the video below.

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