Science Foundation Arizona launches new solar initiatives and the Solar Technology Institute

Five new solar initiatives totaling $4 million dollars to advance Arizona's renewable energy leadership

PHOENIX - Science Foundation Arizona announced its new solar technology initiatives and the opening of the Solar Technology Institute (STI) on April 17, with simultaneous events at the APS Star Facility in Phoenix and Global Solar in Tucson.

In a collaborative effort, STI is deploying Arizona's significant solar resources with industry and the research strengths of Arizona State University (ASU) and the University of Arizona (UA) to grow the state's global leadership in renewable energy. STI is being led by two pioneers in the solar field, Robert "Bud" Annan and Richard Powell, to 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 Harris, president and CEO of the 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 commercialization of products and services that foster new industry growth through five solar investments. The five solar investments, which total $4 million, include:

  • Photovoltaic Environmental Performance and Reliability

Arizona State University and UA researchers, in collaboration with Tucson Electric Power and TUV-Rheinland, are working together 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.

  • Concentrator Photovoltaics

Researchers at UA and 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 significantly reducing the cost of electricity from solar panels. Other partners include Advalue, All Optronics, Aerospace Corporation and Nanovoltaix.

  • Compressed Air Energy Storage

Southwest Solar Technologies, United States 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.

"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."

"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."

For more information about the Solar Technology Institute, visit investments/solarinitiatives.aspx.

Media contacts:

Skip Derra, ASU, (480) 965-4823; [email protected]
Terry Koch, Science Foundation of Arizona, (602) 703-2323

Science Foundation Arizona (SFAz) is a 501-C(3) nonprofit organization initiated in 2006 by the Greater Phoenix Leadership Inc., Southern Arizona Leadership Council and the Flagstaff Forty. SFAz's goal is to build and strengthen scientific, engineering and biomedicine in areas of greatest strategic value to Arizona's competitiveness in the global economy. SFAz is investing in partnerships between nonprofit research institutions and industry and in the education pipeline to attract and support a knowledge-driven economy.

Solar Technology Institute (STI) established by Science Foundation Arizona, is deploying the state's significant solar resources toward research and development advances that grow Arizona's leadership in the renewable energy sector. For more information, visit