UA Tech Park Taking Advantage of the Arizona Sunshine | Tech Parks Arizona

UA Tech Park Taking Advantage of the Arizona Sunshine

Logan Burtch-Buus
February 5, 2016
Inside Tucson Business



One of the most promising and potentially lucrative fields of research being carried out at the University of Arizona Tech Park is the development of solar technology at one of the park’s hubs of innovation, the aptly named Solar Zone.

The Solar Zone is located in one of the most ideal environments in the world to study all the various aspects of solar energy. Tucson not only receives consistent sunshine throughout the majority of the year, but also receives optimal sunshine and energy.

Situated on over 200 acres, the Solar Zone has currently developed 165 acres for testing and development. The facility currently generates 23 MW of power. According to the tech park, power usage for the entirety of operations caps out at 14 MW at peak hours.

All of the opportunity to be found at the park has attracted several companies in the solar, energy and climate industries to call the area home.

According to Bruce A. Wright, the associate vice president at the tech park, the facilities offers the perfect place for industry innovators to “test, demonstrate and validate” technological advances in many different industries.

“If you want to demonstrate that you have solar technology,” he said, “where are you going to go in the world to demonstrate that technology? If I want to develop a solar system, I’m not going to do it in downtown Manhattan, I’m not going to do it in Silicon Valley, but I can do it in Tucson at the U of A Tech Park.”

The energy is also utilized by Tucson Electric Power, which makes the Solar Zone the largest solar development site in the world connected to a major power grid. Wright said as the alternative energy industry begins to blossom, solar power will be one of the leading fields.

The tech park is able to produce quite a bit of energy, but where does it all go, and what can be done with it? That is exactly what Wright said the work with TEP is all about. 

As solar becomes integrated into grids, electrical companies and municipalities are going to have to figure out how to store and regulate power consumption in order to have a reliable and constant source of energy.

Researchers are also working to develop potential residential, commercial and even integrated applications for solar power, like installing solar power producing windows on buildings or in vehicles.

Not just destined for use on a large scale, Wright said solar power also has applications in micro-grids and for applications or industries with a specialized energy need.

“The solar world is in a state of constant evolution,” Wright said. “I would make it analogous with what happened with semiconductor chips in the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s: it was constantly changing, improving, miniaturizing and increasing power output — all these kinds of things. Then that became ubiquitous in any kind of electronic product. So I think solar energy is starting to move into what I call its adolescent stage, it’s come out of infancy.”

The question Wright asked is at the heart of the work being done by companies in the Solar Zone: where do we go from here?

Once solar energy has grown into adolescence, to steal Wright’s metaphor, the potential applications could be limitless — and much of that innovation is being done right at the U of A Tech Park. From the development of microchips, to building panels and arrays or studying the impact of weather and the elements, a lot of exciting and innovating work is being done at the tech park.


Read the original article here

Tech Park ArizonaTech Park ArizonaTech Park ArizonaTech Park ArizonaTech Park ArizonaTech Park ArizonaTech Park ArizonaTech Park ArizonaTech Park ArizonaTech Park Arizona