SunPower broke ground this month on a big solar installation at the Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California.
Though it's not a utility scale system of the magnitude being developed elsewhere in the desert – like the 392-megawatt (MW) Ivanpah concentrating solar plant, for instance – at 13.78 MW it is large enough to hint at the kind of solar development the military would like to see take place on its bases in the California desert.
By going with a 20-year power-purchase agreement (PPA) – a first for a military project, SunPower said – the Navy will get the electricity "at up to 30 percent below the rate available through the more traditional 10-year PPA."
In dollar terms, SunPower said the system will help the Navy "reduce costs by an estimated $13 million over the next 20 years." The China Lake system will use SunPower's Oasis Power Plant product, which integrates the SunPower T0 Tracker with the SunPower E19/425 Solar Panel.