Friday, May 16, 2014

Solar power plant and copper mine - the right mix

Building a solar power generating facility next to a copper mine makes a lot of sense.    After all, solar plants need sand and gravel, aggregate, limestone for cement, steel, silicon for solar panels, and a lot of copper.  Copper for motors, generators, transformers, and the power lines to carry the electricity to consumers. 
Asarco and Tucson Electric Power broke ground this week for the Avalon Solar project, a utility-scale solar-energy production plant using photovoltaic panels, just east of Asarco's Mission mine complex near Sahuarita, south of Tucson.   
I had the privilege of participating and making a few comments about mineral needs for renewable energy.   [Photo courtesy of J. Martin Harris Photography].    One of my points was that mining locally is the environmentally responsible approach, by reducing the energy needed to transport ores and metals long distances, reducing the carbon footprint by using local resources, and operating in one of the most rigorous regulatory frameworks in the world.
According to Asarco, the project, also known as the Pima Mine Road Solar Generating Facility is a 35 MWdc  renewable-energy facility that will supply Tucson Electric Power (TEP) with enough  electricity to  power more than 7,000 homes when complete later this year. The project is a collaboration between Asarco, TEP and Clēnera.   Construction begins next week and power generation is expected by year's end.

update: a fact sheet on the project is online at


  1. Anonymous5:23 AM

    this type f project makes sense in many ways. Stand alone plants with no existing infrastructure don't make sense. When done properly these will work. If they are government subsizied they do not work.

  2. I'm impressed at what chemical and electrical advancements have brought us as a society. So much goes into arrangements like this, but once it's up and running, there is so much potential for benefit to so many people!
    ~ Amy

  3. Who will be hiring for this solar plant?

  4. Equator Solar LLC through its subsidiary Avalon Solar Partners, LLC (Avalon Solar), is developing the project. The company says "There will be up to 300 jobs created during construction of the project. When the system is operational, it is estimated that
    there will be 4 permanent jobs for maintenance and security of the system." Contact info for the company is at

  5. This is great. The synergies will help both the entities to make a lasting contribution to the society and people living around that area.

  6. This is very informative post it is very helpful for me as well as others and solar energy to generate thermal energy or electrical energy for use in industry, and in the residential and commercial sectors.

  7. Anonymous5:58 PM

    Great idea. Went for a drive and saw the signs. Twice I was turned away. I am interested in seeing the site. It is not private from what the "gate keepers" told me.