Slated to be the world’s largest parabolic trough concentrating solar power plant in the world, the Solana project in Gila Bend, Ariz., has awarded its heat transfer fluid contract to Solutia Inc., St. Louis. The contract is for Therminol VP-1 synthetic fluid for the $2 billion project, which will be the first large-scale solar plant in the United States capable of storing energy for continued power generation during periods of low sunlight.

Therminol absorbs concentrated sunlight, generating heat and steam that drive power-generating turbines. The stored heat can be used to produce energy during periods of little to no sunlight, including the evening hours. The Solana plant will generate electricity to help meet the summer peak demand for air-conditioning. The plant's owner, Abengoa Solar in Lakewood, Colo., says the plant should emit 475,000 fewer tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year compared to a natural gas-burning power plant.