Testing & Demonstration Sites

Integrated Solar Energy & Smart Grid Research, Development, Demonstration and Education Center

Project description:

tepSolarfieldThe project aims to build several pilot-scale facilities that integrate renewable-energy generation with energy storage, using a variety of sources and methods for each, and with land-use concepts, such as biofuels and agriculture, and with education and technician training activities.  The project will use systems analysis and advanced smart-grid/microgrids to optimize capacity, integration, cost and efficiency in delivering desired utility loads and advanced economic analysis/models to estimate the scaled cost of energy production.

Energy generation sources to be integrated are:  flat-plate PV, single axis tracking PV, concentrated thermal and concentrated PV, solar trough and simulated wind. Energy storage methods to be integrated include:  batteries (Li-ion, sodium sulfur and flow batteries), supercapacitors, compressed air energy storage (both underground and above-ground) and other mechanical storage methods.  Developed systems will be assessed for cost/benefit to identify areas where research might lead to a decrease in cost and/or improvement in efficiency supported by empirical modeling of technological change to determine effective policy alternatives.  All components of the Center will contribute to research and education and will undergo individual performance analysis, as well as systems performance assessment.  Education and training will also take place in a Visitor Center with student training and demonstration areas for public access.

Two sites are operating under a Public/Private Non-Profit Paternship inwhich the University of Arizona is a lead partner through AzRISE with TEP, UA STP, Global Solar Energy, Hanwa Solar, Prism Solar, and Semprius.   Potential contributing partners are: Solon, NAU, the University of Colorado, Colorado School of Mines,  NanoTune, Inc., NGK,  and the Arizona Renewable Energy and Storage Technology Consortium (AzREST) formed by AzRISE that includes:  APS, TEP, SRP, AEPCO, WAPA, Southwestern Power Group II, University of Colorado, NAU, WECC, and SWAT.

An additional solar park is under development by Florida Gulf Coast University in partnership with AzRISE. The site in Fort Myers, FL will allow comparison of PV and storage technology performance between the US southwestern and southeastern regions.


These projects are in line with ongoing activities at AzRISE and UA in solar energy and storage, and at the UA Biofuels Institute.  Workforce training, education and jobs formation are critical aspects of these Centers.


The projects are directed by AzRISE through Joe Simmons.  A campus technical advisory team will be formed to represent the related campus activities like the campus sustainability program (desalination research), the Biofuels Institute, and other programs.