At two Del Webb residential communities near Phoenix, Arizona, a roof-integrated solar-electric power system that blends seamlessly into the home and utilizes one of the most efficient and reliable solar technologies available is planned.

Some 30 minutes away, the master plan for Forepaugh Industrial Rail Park near the state’s largest city boasts a photovoltaic (PV) solar field, PV-distributed solar on the industrial buildings, and reuse of a brownfield.

And First Solar, Inc., is building a $300 million manufacturing center in Mesa, which will create about 600 jobs and include four manufacturing lines with a capacity to produce more than 250 megawatts (MW) of advanced thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules each year.

With 300-plus days of sunshine every year, Phoenix is becoming a center for solar innovation. “There are few locations in the world that offer the amount of sunlight and solar ‘hot spots’ for the testing and actual efficiency for solar, making Phoenix and Arizona great places for innovation,” says Jason N. Hadley, principal at Scottsdale’s Hadley Design Group, Inc. “In addition, the return to affordable housing, innovative industrial and commercial real estate, and a business-friendly climate make Phoenix a great place to bring a business. The Greater Phoenix Economic Council and other organizations have worked diligently to better position the city and the state for solar developers as well as other green tech innovators.” 

There are so many new technologies appearing on the solar horizon—from films and window systems to concentrated dishes that are not much bigger than a computer monitor—that “we are at the beginning of some great things to come that will make solar more efficient and thus more cost effective for real estate development and, in turn, used in far more projects,” says Hadley. “Most national builders are rolling out solar options,” he continues. “Many commercial developers are converting their existing commercial centers to rooftop solar and requiring new developments to have solar in them, so that will continue to expand.”

SheridanSolar_1_351Phoenix and other locations in the Southwest are clearly popular locations for solar applications, says Brad Schoenberg, PulteGroup director of construction operations in Arizona, who notes that Del Webb’s new-home Sun City communities in the Grand Canyon State just started offering solar as standard. “More and more municipalities are offering incentives for homebuilders and homeowners to use solar and, clearly, the abundant sunshine in Arizona is a plus [for] this great green technology,” he explains. “While PulteGroup has several solar communities in Arizona, California, and Las Vegas, the company has also made the commitment in other areas of the nation. Del Webb River Pointe in New Jersey, for example, added solar last year.”

Solar is the wave of the future, and renewable-energy and energy-efficient products in new homes are increasing. “When looking at enhanced energy-efficient features on a broad-based level, there are more opportunities for purchasing efficiencies,” Schoenberg adds. “Pulte has developed many partnerships over the years with great companies that develop state-of-the-art products—from solar roof tiles to low-flow toilets. These partnerships are key [to] providing our homeowners [with] the best possible products in their homes at the best possible cost.”

At the same time, developers and municipalities are taking the renewable-energy push to new heights. Wickenburg Forepaugh Industrial Rail Park is a leading example, says Hadley. “As the technology and processes of producing renewable and solar energy advance, costs are reduced, demand increases, and the evolution of the industry dominates the markets,” he continues. “Forepaugh will offer a competitive value proposition and will positively affect the companies located within the site. Wickenburg is poised to embrace growth from solar and sustainable companies looking to relocate or position their firms in the heart of the solar and renewable energy services industry.”