Tessera Solar and CPS Energy, the nation’s largest municipally owned energy company providing both natural gas and electricity, announced the signing of a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) to develop a 27-megawatts (MW) solar project in West Texas.
The project will use the SunCatcherTM power system manufactured by Tessera Solar’s sister company, Stirling Energy Systems.
The PPA with San Antonio’s CPS Energy is the first Texas project for Tessera Solar and will complement the company’s 1,500 MW of California projects in Imperial Valley and the Mojave Desert.
With the signing of this PPA, CPS Energy is moving forward with its commitment announced in the summer of 2008 to pursue up to 100 MW of resource capacity from solar energy. This is part of CPS Energy’s overall goal to achieve renewable-energy capacity equal to 20% of customers’ peak electrical demand by 2020.
“This marks our first purchase of solar-generated energy, and we look for it to be the start of a successful solar program for many years to come,” said CPS Energy CEO Milton B. Lee.
The Western Ranch Solar project is expected to break ground in Summer 2010, assuming timely completion of regulatory approvals, with the first units expected to come online by the end of 2010.
The 27-MW solar project, comprised of 1,080 SunCatcherTM dishes, will create 100 construction jobs and up to 20 permanent solar jobs. Furthermore, the investment in the project will create a significant property tax base to support schools, hospitals and other services in West Texas counties.
The SunCatcher™ system uses precision mirrors attached to a parabolic dish to concentrate the sun’s energy onto a high-efficiency Stirling Engine. Each dish can generate up to 25,000 watts of power and has been certified by Sandia National Laboratories as having the highest sun-to-grid energy conversion in the world.
In addition to its efficiency and cost advantages, the SunCatcher™ uses less than 1% of the water required by competing solar thermal technologies.
Western Ranch Solar is expected to be one of the first utility-scale solar projects built in Texas and can be expanded to as much as 130MW.
Today’s announcement is also supported by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), as San Antonio is one of 25 cities in the nation to receive the Solar America City designation by the government agency. DOE provides financial and technical assistance to support the cities' innovative efforts to accelerate the adoption of solar energy technologies. San Antonio, under its Solar America City partnership, is working to remove barriers to widespread solar deployment in the city and help cost effectively meet its solar installation goals by focusing on large scale solar installations.
CPS Energy was acquired by the City of San Antonio in 1942 and serves approximately 695,000 electric customers and more than 320,000 natural gas customers in and around America’s seventh-largest city. CPS Energy ranks number one in wind-energy capacity among municipally owned utilities in the U.S.
Tessera Solar North America, headquartered in Houston, Texas is exclusively responsible for the global deployment of the SunCatcher™ solar dish Stirling system.
Stirling Energy Systems (SES Inc.) was formed in 1996 to develop and commercialize advanced solar technology. The company maintains corporate headquarters in Scottsdale, Arizona, an office in Tustin, California, and engineering and test site operations at Sandia National Laboratories in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
The SES SunCatcherTM is a concentrating solar power (CSP) technology that uses mirrors to concentrate the sun’s energy and convert it to electricity. CSP technologies include dish systems, parabolic troughs, power towers and concentrating photovoltaic. The dish concentrator tracks, collects and focuses the sun’s energy and the Stirling engine converts the thermal energy to electricity.