The University of Arizona’s Tech Park Advances the Next Generation of Solar Energy Innovation | Tech Parks Arizona
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The University of Arizona’s Tech Park Advances the Next Generation of Solar Energy Innovation

(Tucson, Arizona) Just three years from its inception, Tech Parks Arizona celebrated completion of Phase One of the Solar Zone at the UA Tech Park. The Solar Zone is a partnership between the University of Arizona and Tucson Electric Power. The Solar Zone is one of the largest multi-technology solar testing and demonstration sites in the world. 

Today’s celebration was marked by the completion of a one megawatt solar array owned by Washington Gas Energy Systems. The array deploys Cogenra’s T14 ground mounted, Dense Cell Interconnect technology (DCI).

Phase One of the Solar Zone occupies 165 acres of land at the UA Tech Park, located in southeastern Tucson. Ten companies and organizations participated in Phase One of the Solar Zone, testing and demonstrating a variety of solar technologies and systems. The site generates 23 megawatts of power which is nearly twice the daily electrical consumption of the Tech Park and enough to power the homes of more than 4,600 TEP residential customers for a year.  

Companies and organizations testing and demonstrating technology in the Solar Zone include: 
•    Arzon Solar
•    Cogenra Solar
•    Duke Energy 
•    E.ON Climate and Renewables
•    IBM
•    REhnu
•    Solon
•    Tucson Electric Power
•    Vail Academy and High School
•    Washington Gas Energy Systems

Participating in the celebration were officials from Tucson Electric Power, Washington Gas Energy Systems, Cogenra, University of Arizona as well as local government, business and community leaders. 

Tech Park officials outlined the elements of Phase Two of the Solar Zone. These include research and development focused on energy storage, micro grids and distributed solar systems, integrated and embedded solar materials, and solar applications and deployment in mining, agriculture, defense and security systems. 

The Solar Zone is designed to provide university and industry researchers with invaluable data and the ability to evaluate various technologies as they perform side by side. Testing under identical operating conditions allows developers to determine when systems are most efficient and economical. University of Arizona researchers are testing everything from solar power forecasting to the environmental impact of solar energy installations. University of Arizona entities involved in the Solar Zone include the Renewable Energy Network, the College of Engineering, the College of Science, the College of Optical Sciences, Department of Physics, UA Institute for the Environment, and Biosphere2.

The UA Tech Park also announced that it was opening an additional twenty-nine acres of land for testing and demonstration projects. The Tech Park is also in the process of designing and constructing a public information and visitor’s center in the Solar Zone.

The Solar Zone contributes to the UA’s Never Settle Strategic Academic & Business Plan by supporting innovation and cultivating synergistic relationships between academia and industry. This is expressed in the Solar Zone goals: 
•    To create a supportive environment where companies can develop, test and demonstrate the next generation of renewable energy products and technologies;
•    To attract private investment capital and key suppliers into the region;
•    To create sustainable, high wage jobs;
•    To develop a workforce with the skills to support the solar technology industry;
•    To reduce the region’s reliance on traditional energy sources; 
•    And to educate the public on the importance of sustainable energy

The Solar Zone has received internationally recognition for its solar and renewable energy expertise. The International Economic Development Council (IEDC) gave the Solar Zone the Excellence in Economic Development Gold Award for Sustainable & Green Development. The Solar Electric Power Association (SEPA) has recognized Tucson Electric Power (TEP) as the 2012 Investor Owned Utility (IOU) of the Year for the company's leadership and continued investment in solar energy.  

Tech Parks Arizona
Tech Parks Arizona creates the interactive ground that generates, attracts and retains technology companies and talent in alignment with the research, mission and goals of the University of Arizona. Tech Parks Arizona directs the UA Tech Park, the UA Tech Park – The Bridges and the Arizona Center for Innovation, placing the highest priority on recruiting companies desiring connectivity to the UA. Tech Parks Arizona is part of Tech Launch Arizona, a University of Arizona initiative to create an ecosystem of invention, commercialization and impact.

From left to right - Rick Stilgenbauer/Senator John McCain Office, Outreach Director; Britann O'Brien/ Office of Arizona Governor Janice K. Brewer, Director of the Southern Arizona Office; Ken Marcus/UA Tech Park, Director; Councilmember Shirley Scott/Ward 4, City of Tucson; Nate Greenberg/Washington Gas Energy Systems, Senior Account Manager, Solar; Gilad Almogy/Cogenra, CEO & Founder; Congressman Ron Barber, District 2; Phil Dion/Tucson Electric Power, Senior VP, Public Policy and Customer Solutions; Bruce Wright/Tech Parks Arizona, Associate VP


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