Why Did Solar Develop in Arizona?

Arizona was once called as “The Persian Gulf of Solar Energy” by a former governor because of its huge potential of producing solar power. This 400 miles long and 310 miles wide state receives 10 – 11 hours of sunlight everyday which means it can generate 100 Megawatts of solar power each day saving up to tons of coal or natural gas. Electricity consumption is directly linked to economic growth, which is the reason why consumption of electricity in the state of Arizona has taken a giant leap since 1981 when the consumption was a little above 25,000 kWh to about 70,000 kWh in the year 2005, and it will be around 43% greater in 2030 than it is today.

In an effort to diversify Arizona’s energy portfolio and promote clean energy in the state, the Arizona Corporation Commission set up a renewable portfolio standard which requires 15% renewable energy by 2025 among regulated utilities, 4.5% of which must come from distributed renewable energy sources. The major question that presented itself to the regulators was from where can they tap this power. Solar power quickly became the answer because not only is it costly to tap hydro and wind power in Arizona, the profit and cost structure of solar power made it the clear winner. Arizona receives on a clear day at high noon 1000 watts of solar power. So, even though the average day is exactly 12 hours, the power you actually get on your panels is equal to about 5 to 6 hours of full sun per day. And this is the reason that a number of solar plants are already established and 32 plants with a total capacity of 21 GW are seeking permission to build plants on federally owned BLM land.

Arizona is just behind California (259 MW), New Jersey (137 MW), Florida (110 MW), and Nevada (61 MW) in solar energy production having installed over 55MW of solar power in 2010 increasing its stake in the solar power industry by more than two folds since 2009 having being producing 21MW of solar power in 2009.Arizona is set to be the home of the world’s largest solar plant as a result of a contract between Abengoa Solar and Arizona Public Service Commission. There are nine gigantic project which are in the proposal stage, to be set up in Arizona among which STERLING SOLAR GENERATING FACILITY,SONORAN SOLAR ENERGY PROJECT and HUALAPAI VALLEY SOLAR PROJECT can alone claim to produce 1915 MW power among themselves.

Arizona is a “lucky” state to receive gallons of sunlight which can be tapped to produce large amounts of solar power. Renewable energy is the call of the hour and Arizona is set to answer this call in the best way possible with gigantic plants being set up and within a few years we can all hope to see a state in the world which does not depends on anything except sun power to lighten up its home and that state will be called, Arizona.

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