SAN JOSE, Calif. — SunPower Corp. has announced the completion of the U.S. Navy’s largest solar power system, a 13.78-megawatt solar photovoltaic (PV) system at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake in California. The power plant is the first federal agency project to be financed through a 20-year solar power purchase agreement. The plant, designed and operated by SunPower, is generating 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.

The 20-year power purchase agreement requires no upfront capital or maintenance obligations from the Navy, matches conventional project financing terms for solar power facilities, and allows the Navy to secure electricity at up to 30 percent below the rate available through shorter duration 10-year power purchase agreements.

SunPower has installed more than 50 megawatts (MW) of solar power systems at government facilities to date. The systems the company has delivered to the Navy and U.S. Air Force alone generate enough electricity to power about 9,000 homes. According to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates, the Navy and Air Force systems will reduce the amount of carbon dioxide emitted into the atmosphere by almost 732,000 tons over the next 20 years.

China Lake also has four geothermal power plants that produce up to 270 MW of electricity, or enough electricity for approximately 378,000 households. The site has been in continuous operation since 1987, and was the Navy’s first site to tap geothermal energy.

Publication date: 11/26/2012