Largest photovoltaic solar array plant in USA built by Air Force
Air Force builds largest solar PV plant in US
19 December 2007
by Anthony Plewes
Not usually known for its green credentials, the US Air Force has just opened the country's largest photovoltaic solar array
. The 14 megawatt solar energy system will supply the Nellis Air Force Base in the Nevada desert, where more than 12,000 people work and live. It will generate in excess of 30 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of clean energy annually and will meet a quarter of the base's power needs.
Although the US already has some massive solar thermal plants, this is the first time that photovoltaic (PV) technology has been used at this scale and it dwarfs what Silicon Valley stalwarts Google and HP are using to provide power to their campuses.
US company SunPower designed and built the Nellis plant as part of a public-private partnership. The array covers 140 acres of land on the edge of the USAF base and is made up from 72,000 solar panels using SunPower's T20 solar tracking system, which moves with the sun throughout the day.
The Nellis array has been in planning for three years and under construction since April 2007. The USAF is the largest consumer of power of the federal agencies, and says it is committed to renewable energy and solar power. It estimates that this plant will reduce its carbon emissions by 24,000 tons annually.
The unrelenting sun in US deserts are making them big hits for solar energy with Nevada already having the 64MW Solar One thermal solar plant, and Pacific Gas and Electric planning a whopping 553MW solar thermal plant covering 6,000 acres in California's Mojave desert.
Posted: 19 December 2007
, 02:59pm by Anthony Plewes