Something new is going to the desert Southwest: New Solar power plants, which can make Solar electricity from the sun is shining or not.

Abengoa Solar Inc. expects to start construction in mid-2011 the factory in Arizona, which stores the sun’s heat generated by the six extra hours a day, the electricity generating capacity. The heat creates steam used to turn turbines.

Abengoa’s Solana $ 2000000000 plant is expected to be the first major storage heating plant in the United States when it enters service in 2013. Some are already in Spain and a few are in the planning stage and in Nevada and California.

Dec 21, Abengoa, the Spanish unit of Abengoa SA, a distribution company removed a major obstacle when it announced the $ 1,450,000,000 U.S. loan guarantee for 250 MW project, designed the Arizona site 70 miles southwest of Phoenix near Gila Bend.

Solana plant will be able to meet winter heating and lighting needs by setting the electricity grid in the early morning before the sun is shining and to help meet summer cooling needs by generating power after sunset. Plant that can power up to 70 000 houses, has signed a 30-year contract to sell electricity to water utility Arizona Public Service.

Such new scale solar plants use mirrors to concentrate the sun’s rays liquid contained in tubes, which can be heated to extremely hot temperatures. Liquid used to boil water and steam. Using a conventional steam turbine generator, producing electricity.

But the twist is that the Arizona center has two giant salt tanks, each 122 feet in diameter and 34 feet deep, that one can keep and maintain the 40% of the heat generated by the plant.

Such a storage technologies is expected to more working days in the U.S. solar energy equipment as officials try to limit the release of carbon dioxide from fossil fuel power plants and to make renewable energy production is reliable.

Mark Mehos, solar program manager for the National Renewable Energy Lab in Golden, Colo., said as molten salt storage systems add about 20% and construction costs of solar equipment, but more than make up the plant by increasing flexibility and productivity.

Photovoltaic plants is expensive, especially when natural gas prices have plummeted, so the gas-generated electricity compared to the low cost. Utilities, which are state mandates to buy more clean power, that solar energy may seem cheaper in the future, if fossil fuel prices rise, or if the tax is imposed on carbon dioxide emissions from power plants.

When it comes to renewable energy, solar power competes most against the wind. Research Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in Berkeley, California, in February 2010 found that utility-scale solar plants storage capacity was three times as expensive to build than the wind, without energy storage.

The study found that solar power was a valuable, but because its production was correlated with peak electricity demand. Yet experts say that if the costs come down, the number of solar projects, which are built to be limited.

Solar Reserve LLC, a power development company in Santa Monica, California, working with two solar projects in Nevada and California still has the heat storage capacity, proportional to their size, as Abengoa project. These plants put out 110 megawatts and 150 megawatts of electricity, respectively, and can store enough heat to run with eight to 12 hours without any extra sunlight.

Reserve a solar power sales agreements with NV Energy Ltd and PG & E Corporation and expects to have two plants in service by 2014. Each pays $ 650 million, $ 750,000,000.

Don Brandt, president and CEO of Pinnacle West Capital Corp., the parent Arizona Public Service, said heat storage Abengoa project makes a “very attractive project for us.” By 2015, Arizona Public Service wants to get 10% of its electricity from renewable energy sources, and the Abengoa plant is expected to contribute one-third. Arizona is a target of 15% renewable energy by 2025.

Mr. Brandt said the peak demand for electricity in his utility is typically hit about sixteen in the summer, but “we remain at elevated levels until about ten at night” in order to get renewable energy later in the evening is valuable.

U.S. National Renewable Energy Laboratory, part of the Department of Energy, says the molten salt storage is a “proven technology.”

“When you put the heat to one of these tanks, you get 95% or 96% of the heat back out,” said Mr. Mehos, a federal energy lab. “It’s a nice big Thermos.”

Another plus, all three plants are to produce power that can be tailored to the specific needs of utility, “said Santiago Seage Chairman of Abengoa Solar. The advantage of grid operators, who want to know they can rely on some power flowing over the lines.