The plant employs a proprietary concentrating solar power (CSP) trough technology developed by Abengoa, and covers an area of 1,920 acres (780 ha). Construction was expected to create about 1,500 construction jobs with the plant employing 85 full-time workers. Solar thermal plants use substantially more water for cooling than other solar generating technologies. Nevertheless, the Sierra Club supports the Solana plant, because it will be built on private land, and use "75 to 85 percent less water than the current agricultural use."
Arizona Public Service (APS) has contracted to purchase 100% of the power output generated from Solana, to meet the Arizona Corporation Commission's (ACC) mandate that the state's regulated utilities provide 15% of their electricity from renewable energy sources by 2025. APS will pay about 14 cents per kWh. The Solana plant was originally planned to open in 2011 and was estimated to cost $2 billion. In December 2010, Abengoa received a $1.45 billion loan guarantee to support construction of the plant.
One of the principal advantages of concentrated solar thermal (CST) is that thermal energy storage can be provided efficiently, so that output can be provided after the sun goes down, and output can be scheduled to meet demand requirements. The Solana Generating Station is designed to provide six hours of energy storage. This allows the plant to generate about 38 percent of its rated capacity over the course of a year.