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North America’s Largest Solar-Electric Plant Switched On

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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-30-07 01:19 PM
Original message
North America’s Largest Solar-Electric Plant Switched On
http://www.metaefficient.com/news/north-americas-largest-solar-electric-plant-in-switched-on.html

North America’s Largest Solar-Electric Plant Switched On

December 28th, 2007



North America’s largest solar photovoltaic system is now running and generating power. The 14 megawatt power plant is at the Nellis Air Force Base in the sunny desert of southern Nevada. It’s expected to save about $1 million in power costs annually, and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 24,000 tons each year. The plant, which cost $100 million to construct, covers 140 acres of land at the western edge of the Nellis base. It is estimated to generate 30 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.



The photovoltaic system is made up of 72,000 solar panels. It’s enough to provide 30% of the electric needs on the base, where 12,000 people work and 7,215 people live. But at 14 megawatts the power output of this system is modest, compared to the solar thermal Nevada One project which generates 64 megawatts of power.

SunPower designed and built the photovoltaic power plant using its proprietary single-axis solar tracking system which follows the sun throughout the day and delivers "up to 30 percent more energy than traditional fixed-tilt ground systems," the company says.

MMA Renewable Ventures, LLC has financed and will operate the solar power plant, selling electricity to Nellis Air Force Base at a guaranteed fixed rate for the next 20 years.
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gaiilonfong Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-30-07 01:20 PM
Response to Original message
1. WOW Great news
Thanks for the post.
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AndyTiedye Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-30-07 02:04 PM
Response to Original message
2. Kicking and Recommending
Do you happen to know what sort of rate they negotiated with MMA?
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OKIsItJustMe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-30-07 02:24 PM
Response to Reply #2
3. Close enough?
http://www.nellis.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123071269

Solar panels connect to base electric grid

by 2nd Lt. Jennifer Richard
Nellis AFB Public Affairs

10/10/2007 - NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. -- North America's largest solar photovoltaic power system is being activated here Oct. 12, as Nellis and SunPower Corporation commission the first five megawatts of solar-produced power.

...

SunPower contractors have worked the past two weeks to interconnect the first third of the photovoltaic array which will ultimately provide 15 megawatts of power and save the base $1 million annually upon completion.

...

"The true effect will be felt in October's electric bill when receives part of the power at our new, less expensive rate," said Michelle Price, base energy manager with the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron.

Power produced by the solar array will cut the base's energy costs, saving Nellis roughly $83,000 on its monthly electric bill when the entire system is commissioned.

...
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pberq Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-30-07 03:47 PM
Response to Original message
4. Kick & Nominated
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diane in sf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-30-07 06:11 PM
Response to Original message
5. Thanks for more great news!
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IndyOp Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-30-07 08:00 PM
Response to Original message
6. More! More! More!
:applause: :applause: :applause: :applause: :applause:

We need, literally, 10,000's of these across the U.S. -- NOW!!

$100 million x 10,000 = 100,000 million -- $100 Billion

We MUST do this, now!
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diane in sf Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-30-07 08:31 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. More of these and a lot of wind power and our already existing grid will be quite helpful
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Ready4Change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Dec-30-07 11:45 PM
Response to Reply #6
8. Um, math check.
I think you dropped a decimal point in there.

But I agree, we need more of this. I'd rather see large installations use solar thermal concentration, as that seems more efficient in large installations, and can be implemented so as to provide power over night and across cloudy/foul weather periods.

But, every little step.

I am concerned over the price. 100 million, but saving 1 million a year means a 100 year payoff time. Panels are typically warrantied for 20-25 years, and are likely a major portion of this arrays cost. I know several installations in residences that are going to payoff in 5-15 years, so it seems the wonders of government contracting are in force at this base?
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Dead_Parrot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-31-07 04:00 AM
Response to Reply #8
10. Not this time, I think
The cost per Watt doesn't actually seem too bad - $7.14, cheaper than a lot of recent large arrays (they seem to gravitate towards $10/W, for some reason) and the 24.4% loading seems about right. I think where it's going pear-shaped is with Nellis getting cheap juice to start with - 3.3c/KWh, compared to Nevada's 11c/KWh average.

If Nellis were paying the same rate as Joe Average, the system would save $3.3 million/year, with payback in ~30 years. Still not stellar, but not totally insane either.

The question on my mind is, why would they suddenly want to generate their own power when it's clearly not saving them anything... :tinfoilhat:
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Ready4Change Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-31-07 09:40 AM
Response to Reply #10
11. Thinking about the costs...
I've been thinking about this a bit more.

It's rare for any government agency, including the military, to do anything quickly unless an emergency demands it. That said, this project has probably been in the works for a decade, or more. And its specifications were likely laid out 5 or more years ago. Once those spec's are locked in, changing them is a complex process that adds more time and expense. So, if it's done now, it's probably got parts that aren't as efficient, nor affordable, as what's available today. If you built it with off the shelf parts available now it would likely be cheaper and/or more effective. That's a big bureaucracy for ya.

OTOH, the military places a big emphasis on robustness and redundancy. I don't know what the source of Nellis's power is, but perhaps they see it being potentially threatened in the nearish future. For example, if they get power from the Hoover Dam, perhaps they see a time coming when politics will demand that Hoover release its water for downstream populations to use. A big solar array could give them power for emergency systems until another power source can be obtained.
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Fledermaus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-31-07 12:11 PM
Response to Reply #8
12. Only 25% of the output is sold to the Air Force base for $1 million annually
Edited on Mon Dec-31-07 12:33 PM by Fledermaus
One million is not the total annuall revenue.
A deal was made to supply 30% of the base eccentricity, for $1 million, in return for supplying the land. I would not be surprised if the base has the right to take 100% of the output if there was a need to.
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NMDemDist2 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Dec-31-07 01:47 AM
Response to Original message
9. 100 years to pay back the costs?
man, we gotta get these things cheaper and soon!
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