ASU A-Z Index
Colleges & Schools
News & Events
Centers & Programs
Alumni and Friends
Support ASU Law
College of Law News
Arizona Solar Summit group visits Gila Bend Solar Landscape, examines needs for solar cluster
A working group formed after the 2011 Arizona Solar Summit recently visited three solar sites in Gila Bend, which is leading the way for solar development projects in Arizona.
The Supply Chain and Workforce Development group is one of four that formed after the Arizona Solar Summit in August. This group consists of representatives from the solar industry, universities, and state and local governments, and is dedicated to determining the supply chain and workforce needs of the overall solar industry in Arizona. It is led by Bud Annan of the Annan Group, and John Fowler and Glenn Hoetker, both professors in the W.P. Carey School of Business at ASU.
The group toured the Paloma Solar Plant, a 17-megawatt photovoltaic facility built by First Solar, and an 18-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant developed by the Solon Corporation, both owned by Arizona Public Service (APS). They also toured a 280-megawatt Solana Concentrated Solar Power Project from Abengoa.
“The purpose of the trip was to gain greater understanding of the planning, construction, and maintenance requirements involved in large renewable energy grid installations,” Annan said. “That understanding was enhanced not only by on site observations, but also by briefings from APS representatives, the project owners, and Gila Bend town officials. We learned that by focusing on the supply chain and workforce, now we can build opportunities for Arizona businesses.”
Rick Buss, Town Manager of Gila Bend and a member of the group, said Arizona is uniquely positioned to benefit the most in solar energy development.
"But, just the mere fact that the sun is Arizona’s greatest natural resource, does not translate into an industry full of new jobs and prosperity,” Buss said. “To fully realize the economic benefits of the solar industry, we must fully understand the makeup of the supply chain. By doing this, we will arrive at a comprehensive inventory targeting the recruitment and retention of solar industry companies in Arizona.”
The group used the site visits to identify actionable next steps directed toward developing the Arizona Solar Cluster. One key finding was that data attained during project construction and operation phases could play a vital role in developing actionable information for future innovation across the supply chain. Having a better understanding of the role of the supply chain in large cluster projects, the group will now turn its attentions toward implementing these next steps at the smaller level, focusing on defining the essential elements for a robust industry in Arizona, identifying core needs of players in the supply chain, and facilitating collaborations to meet those needs.
The 2011 Arizona Solar Summit brought together more than 120 people from 70 different organizations to advance the solar energy industry on a regional, state, and national scale. Unlike traditional conferences, the Summit was guided by audience participation, which led to more than 40 people volunteering to be a part of the working groups that came out of the Summit. Sponsors for the event were Arizona Cardinals, Salt River Project, and ASU LightWorks.
The next Summit will take place on March 26-27. The conference will be hosted by the Program on Law and Sustainability and the Center for Law, Science & Innovation at the Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law in conjunction with ASU LightWorks, the Greater Phoenix Economic Council, and ASU SkySong. The summit will report the progress of the four groups as well as put a spotlight on the critical legal and policy questions surrounding making Arizona the solar energy capitol of the nation.
For more information about the Summit or the working groups, please visit