LAS VEGAS - The largest solar photovoltaic (PV) system in both the United States and in North America has been installed at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada. The 14-megawatt solar power system will provide about a quarter of the electricity needs of the base, which is located northeast of Las Vegas.

SunPower Corp. designed and built the power plant using solar panels mounted on a single-axis tracking system that follows the sun throughout the day, producing up to 30 percent more electricity than typical fixed-position solar panels. MMA Renewable Ventures LLC financed the plant and will operate it, selling the power to Nellis Air Force Base at a guaranteed fixed rate for the next 20 years.

Nevada Power Company is also supporting the project by buying all the Renewable Energy Credits generated by the solar array, thereby helping the utility to meet its renewable energy requirements. Located on 140 acres of land at the western edge of the base, the PV system comprises 72,000 solar panels.

“This solar project at Nellis is a first step of many toward making renewable electricity integral to the operations of the U.S. Air Force,” said Air Force Assistant Secretary William Anderson. “As the largest consumer of energy in the federal government, the Air Force is well-positioned to promote both solar technology and new approaches to its implementation. This pioneering initiative is a good example of how a creative approach to public-private partnership can make our energy supply more sustainable, more secure, and more affordable.”

Publication date:12/24/2007