Proposed plant is expected to save US Government $13 Million over the next 20 years.
Wayne Gerdes - CleanMPG
- Nov. 11, 2011
Large scale SunPower solar installation.
SunPower - The History
SunPower’s first major customers were anything but typical. In 1993, Honda Motor Company called with the news that they planned to compete in the annual Darwin to Adelaide solar car race across Australia. Honda wanted the most efficient solar cells on the planet to power their vehicle. Accordingly, SunPower’s engineers went to work crafting high-efficiency solar concentrator cells – and Honda won the race. Not by a minute or by an hour, but by an entire day. NASA took note, choosing SunPower’s cells for the world’s first solar-powered aircraft, the High-Altitude, Long Endurance (HALE) UAV Project. Soaring at 96,863 feet, the flight broke all prior altitude records.
Meanwhile, PowerLight was becoming a "name" in the solar industry. The company completed the first commercial PV installation in North America, a 200-kilowatt (kW) solar-powered system at the Mauna Lani Resort in Hawaii. Next up: America’s biggest rooftop solar system (comprised of 14,000 panels), at a Long Island, New York corporation. And in 2004, the company notched its biggest success: the completion of the Bavaria Solarpark power plant in Germany. With nearly 60,000 of SunPower's panels generating 10.1 megawatts (MW) of power, at the time it was the world’s largest PV installation.
By the late 1990s, the PowerLight team set a goal to add new technologies that would enable solar panels to be used for ground-mounted solar projects. PowerLight Trackers went on to transform the worldwide market for ground-mounted solar trackers, which increase efficiency by following the sun throughout the day.
As the New Millennium dawned, both SunPower and PowerLight were industry leaders. The summer of 2003 brought the dedication of SunPower’s solar cell fabrication facility in the Philippines; the first “fab” constructed outside of Japan, Europe or the U.S. The company also made significant inroads into the international solar marketplace. In November of 2005, the wide-scale industry acceptance of SunPower’s products led to the company’s initial public offering.
A short year later, SunPower announced its intention to acquire PowerLight – and on January 10, 2007, SunPower and PowerLight became one entity. To this day, our legacy of technological innovation and solar expertise ensures that our customers continue to enjoy substantial environmental and financial benefits.
Latest Large Scale Solar Project
SunPower announced this morning that is has begun designs for a 13.78-megawatt (DC) solar photovoltaic (PV) power system for the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California and intends to break ground next month. SunPower's high-efficiency solar technology will generate the equivalent of more than 30 percent of China Lake's annual energy load, helping to reduce costs by an estimated $13 million over the next 20 years. Because the Navy is buying electricity under a power purchase agreement (PPA), the system requires no initial out-of-pocket expenses
, and will deliver increased energy independence as well as reliable, emission-free solar power beginning at the end of next year.
The installation will be the government's first solar power plant financed by a 20-year Federal solar PPA using the 10USC 2922a authority which is relevant to contracts for energy or fuel for military installations.
Under the agreement, SunPower will design, build, operate and maintain the solar power system supported by a 25-year warranty. An affiliate of Metropolitan Life will be the owner of the plant that will be leased to a SunPower affiliate. The Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake will purchase the electricity at a rate that is currently below the retail utility rate, providing the Navy with a long-term hedge against rising power prices with no initial capital investment. The 20-year PPA will also allow the Navy to secure electricity at up to 30 percent below the rate available through the more traditional 10-year PPA.
Karen Butterfield, SunPower's Director of Federal Programs:
"With more than a decade of experience working with the federal government and the most efficient solar technology available today, SunPower is confident in guaranteeing the performance of this system over the entire contract period."
The installation at China Lake will feature the SunPower Oasis Power Plant product, a fully integrated, modular solar power block that is engineered to rapidly and cost-effectively deploy utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use. Each power block integrates the SunPower T0 Tracker with the maximum efficiency SunPower E19 / 425 Solar Panel, pre-manufactured system cabling and other advanced features.
SunPower Oasis Power Plant Components
The Oasis power plant is a fully-integrated solution built with cost-optimized photovoltaic power blocks integrated into a turnkey energy solution. High-density, 1.5 MW solar power blocks are designed to maximize energy output and follow the contours of your land for optimal production on your solar energy site.
Complemented by sophisticated plant controller tools, including a SCADA system and the TMACTM controller, the SunPower Oasis power plant improves solar energy collection and maximizes system performance.
SunPower T0 Tracker with SunPower 425 Solar Panel
Combined with the industry-leading SunPower 425-watt solar panel, the SunPower T0 Tracker sets a new standard of energy efficiency for solar power plants. The SunPower T0 Tracker produces more solar energy per acre than any solar tracker available. Proprietary tracking algorithms maximize solar plant capacity factor and produce up to 30% more energy than fixed-tilt systems. When it comes to installation on your solar energy site, pre-manufactured solar tracking structures enable maximum installation rate with factory-levels of quality control.
An essential part of any solar power plant, the Oasis Inverter is designed to maximize energy yield in multi-megawatt utility-scale solar installations. The smart inverter for the Oasis solar power plant features voltage ride-through, curtailment control and solar reactive power, enhancing grid interoperability for PV power plants.
The total cost of installation, total output and the exact contracted utility rate were not disclosed at time of release.