MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif., and EL PASO, Texas - The search engine company Google is about to embark on a record-setting solar electricity project, installing 1.6 megawatts (MW) of solar power on several buildings and on new parking lot shade structures at its headquarters campus in Mountain View, Calif. According to EI Solutions, which developed the project, it will be the largest solar power system installed on a single corporate campus. The system is expected to save Google more than $393,000 per year in electricity costs and pay for itself in about 7.5 years.

While Google shoots for a corporate record, Fort Bliss plans to set a world record in solar power production. The U.S. Army base, located near El Paso, Texas, launched a project to build a 1.5-MW solar photovoltaic power plant using technology developed by Atira Technology and studied extensively by the Naval Postgraduate School (NPS). While that project is impressive enough, Fort Bliss plans to start a second phase in the fall of 2007 that will generate 20 MW of solar power, a record size for the United States. But that's not all: phase three in 2008 will generate 40 MW, and phase four in 2009 will generate 1,000 MW of power. If the Fort Bliss project goes that far, it will shatter all current records for power production from solar photovoltaic systems.

Called "Power the Army!," the Fort Bliss project aims to cut solar power costs in half using new Atira technologies that have passed field tests conducted by both the Army and Navy. According to NPS, the Atira solar cells and power inverters both operate more efficiently than today's technologies.

Publication date: 11/13/2006