U.S. Air Force Academy opens 6MW solar power plant

U.S. Air Force Academy opens 6MW solar power plant

By Andrew Nusca | June 13, 2011, 6:55 AM PDT

The U.S. Air Force Academy on Monday welcomed the completion of a 6-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant in Colorado Springs, Colo., the latest step for the military to decrease its reliance on fossil fuels for energy.

The project, which was funded in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, also helps the USAFA pursue its “Net Zero Initiative,” which sets a goal of 100 percent on-base renewable energy sources.

The deal is structured such that the academy and solar firm SunPower, which helped build the plant’s solar arrays (as well as others, including the U.S. Department of Energy’s headquarters in Washington, D.C.), will each own 50 percent of the renewable energy credits from the system.

Colorado Springs Utilities managed the plant’s connection to the regional grid.

The system uses SunPower solar panels and the company’s T0 Tracker system, which follows the sun’s movement during the day to increase sunlight capture — by up to 25 percent, the company says. (Although Colorado has never lacked open space, the technology helps a solar operator squeeze more efficiency from a fixed plot of land.)

Using U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates, the academy’s system will reduce the base’s carbon dioxide emissions by 9,400 tons each year


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