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Science Foundation Arizona Launches the Solar Technology Institute

Science Foundation Arizona announced five new solar investments totaling $4 million and the opening of the Solar Technology Institute (STI) to advance Arizona's renewable energy leadership.

In a collaborative effort, STI is deploying Arizona's significant solar resources with industry and the research strengths of the University of Arizona and Arizona State University to grow the state's global leadership in renewable energy. STI is being led by two pioneers in the solar field, Richard Powell and Robert Annan who serve as co-directors. The Stardust Foundation is assisting in the financial support of the investments.

"With STI's combined expertise, we can leverage our financial and brainpower capital toward the best solar initiatives and breakthroughs in new solar products and technologies," said William C. Harris, president and CEO, Science Foundation Arizona. "These returns on investment can significantly impact Arizona's emerging prominence in solar and position the state to benefit from upcoming federal competitions."

"Arizona Corporation Commission's Renewable Energy Standards require 15 percent of all regulated electric utilities to generate 15 percent of their energy from renewable resources by 2025," said Kristin Mayes, chairman, Arizona Corporation Commission. "The Solar Technology Institute is an important step in this process and we applaud Science Foundation Arizona for its vision and significant impact in helping achieve our renewable energy goals."

"The industry collaboration being encouraged by Science Foundation Arizona through the Solar Technology Institute is significant for Arizona in strengthening our core competitive advantage," said Don Brandt, CEO, Arizona Public Service. "This synergy will not only push Arizona to the forefront of solar technology, it will increase the number of highly skilled, high-paying jobs in the state."

The Solar Technology Institute will catalyze solar technology advances and the commercialization of products and services that foster new industry growth through five solar investments.

The five solar investments, totaling $4 million, include:
  • Concentrator Photovoltaics - Researchers at University of Arizona (UA) and Arizona State University (ASU) are collaborating on next generation low-cost solar reflectors that can be used in solar energy generating systems.
  • Nanostructured Films for Photovoltaics - Global Solar, General Plasma, Prism Solar, ASU and UA are teaming up to enhance the capabilities of thin film solar panels through innovative technology. This will significantly reduce the cost of electricity from solar panels. Other partners include Advalue, All Optronics, Aerospace Corporation and Nanovoltaix.
  • Photovoltaic Environmental Performance and Reliability - ASU and UA are working with Tucson Electric Power, and TUV-Rheinland, to expand the ASU Photovoltaic Testing Laboratory so it can conduct more rapid product certification and testing of solar products, and help identify and create better performing solar products. Other partners include Sandia National Laboratories, Reliasoft, Salt River Project, Arizona Public Service, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Spire Solar and Solan AG.
  • Compressed Air Energy Storage - Southwest Solar Technologies, the U.S. Geological Survey, UA and ASU are developing compressed air solar storage technology for use when the Sun is not shining. Other partners include Simmons, Nanovoltaix, and Eusthatia.
  • AZ Smart - Arizona Public Service, Salt River Project, ASU and UA are partnering to create a system of smart grid management and to develop decision making software to help select future power generation station locations, storage sites and power lines throughout Arizona. Other partners include Viasol, Bright Source, Creatasoft and Tucson Electric Power.
"Collaborations like this are how a culture of conservation and innovation is built in Arizona," said Leslie Tolbert, UA vice president for research, economic development and graduate studies. "We are pleased to put our efforts to work to build Arizona's 21st century economy on clean energy alternatives."

"The creation of STI is a huge step forward in incorporating solar into our energy mix and in positioning Arizona to become a net exporter of solar products, services and technologies worldwide," said R.F. "Rick" Shangraw, ASU vice president for research and economic affairs. "Setting up STI and the announcement of several new solar research initiatives will help make Arizona an alternative energy powerhouse."

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