North America’s Largest Solar-Electric Plant Switched On

North America’s largest solar photovoltaic system is now running and generating power — about 30 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually. 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. The company that owns the panels is leasing the land at no cost, and Nellis is agreeing to buy the power for 20 years at about 2.2 cents/kWh, instead of the 9 cents they are paying to Nevada Power, saving the Air Force $1 million each year. None of the $100 million cost came from the Air Force.

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.

Link: Press Release

Comments

  1. lee says

    Are you certain about the $100 million cost figure? I did not see it in MMA’s press release.

    If this plant produces 30 million kWh per year, thats between $2.8 and $3.5 million worth of energy at Nevada’s current average cost of between 9.5 cents/kWh to 11.8 cents/kWh: http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/electricity/epm/table5_6_a.html

    At that rate it would take between 27 to 35 years to break even assuming Zero cost for maintenance and operation, not to mention the interest costs of financing. I know solar panel durability has improved over the years, but surely every panel in that project will have to be replaced within 35 years.

    I can’t imagine how $100 million makes sense. Maybe if it was $10 million, you’d probably break even at 7 or 8 years after costs. At $100 million this would seem to be the biggest solar boondogle ever. Mooonoraaaaaail anyone?

  2. Justin says

    I hope the $100 million is inaccurate.

    It doesn’t make any sense to build something for $100 million with a $1 million/yr return. It would take at least 100 years to break even, plus maintenance and minus depreciation.

    Not worth it.

  3. Preston says

    How is this the largest in North America if “this system is modest, compared to the solar thermal Nevada One project”

  4. physdave says

    Save $1M/year? So it’ll take only 80 years to pay off the capital cost that’s higher by a factor of 6 than a gas-fired plant. I kind of doubt those panels will last even a fraction of that time before they have to be replaced, either.

  5. Andy says

    I’m curious about stat comparisons bewteen the photovoltaic vs. concentrator systems used in the PS10 setup. Acreage usage, cost, efficiency, energy generation, etc.

    I wonder if you could also have a combined system with twoway mirrors.

  6. Ugly American says

    Build Costs per watt:
    Nellis PV solar $7.14
    NSO T solar $3.88
    proposed Ely coal $2.53

    Operating Costs per watt:
    Nellis PV solar: tiny
    NSO T solar: tiny
    proposed Ely coal: $0.28 per year*

    Turns out Ely needs 7 million tons of high grade coal a year which is already $60/ton not counting delivery costs. 7M*60=$420M in fuel costs alone adding $0.28 per watt per year to the cost of coal.

    So even if we didn’t care about polution at all, coal is only be cheaper for the first 4.8 years and then Thermal Solar is cheaper from then on.

    Did I mention that NSO took less than 18 months from start to finish (including the European shipping accident that delayed the turbine) and the Ely coal plant is expected to take 5 years to enter operation if they started today?

  7. russ says

    like everyone else says above. £100 million WTF!!!!
    Whats the fuckin point!!

    This seems like a showcase project.

    The speed at which Solar technology is advancing makes this site outdated already and in 10 years it will look downright inefficient!

    That is unless the energy/oil crisis worsens in which case that $1 million per year is gonna creap up bit by bit.

    The whole green issue is bollocks asa far as im concerned. What matters here is getting an alternative energy source to oil before its to late!
    Id say the solar panel boys are aware of this fact

  8. SameOldNaysayers says

    Look, the public is starting to get wise to these claims that solar is sooooo much more expensive than coal, so please, naysayers GET OFF IT. Nevadas current costs might be .09-.11, that is consistent with many US utilities but that is only measuring the consumption cost of a fully amortized facility be it coal or whatever. The point is .10 per KWh is not an ACCURATE depiction of the current costs of any US utility, anywhere. If you need to build a new plant today or retrofit an existing plant, then solar with its terrestrial panel layout is MUCH cheaper than building a coal facility, MUCH MUCH cheaper than a Nuclear facility and this does not even include the mining costs. You simply can’t touch the current startup costs of a solar energy plant against *any* conventional fuelsource. Obviously if a utility has a fully amortized facility that does not need upgrading, maybe solar in that case doesn’t make sense. But for any utility that needs to be built or retrofitted today, solar is cheaper.

  9. Martin says

    All that effort to save $1 Million.
    It’s a case of priorities, it cost that much to keep the Iraq war going for a minute.

  10. TIM HALE says

    SOME OF THE EQUIPMENT MY SHOP RUNS
    ON 230 – 3PHASE SOME 230 SINGLE PHASE
    THIS ENCLUDS SOME LIGHTING
    AND 115 V FOR THE REMAINDER
    YOUR THOUGHS ON GOING GREEN
    THANK YOU
    TIM

  11. says

    There are better ways to capture Solar output and store it as a bio degradable liquid the environment can handle if it were spilled. Even one way to clean up our rivers as a bonus.

    Google “Ten Sections Per County” using the quotes provided.

    Enough energy to power nearly every U.S. auto and much of what the USAF flies for a little over a dollar a gallon, not counting distribution costs and of course, taxes would be extra.

  12. coal_burner says

    The numbers just don’t add up (or multiply out). If the plant produces 30 million KWH per year, and the air force save 6.8 cents per KWH, then the air force is saving 2.04 million dollars per year not 1 million.

  13. ishtiaq butt says

    Dear sir,

    I visited your website and astonished to read about solar technology. Kindly advise our country king to adopt solar system to fulfil our electricity requirements.

    Thanks.

  14. says

    This method of generating power is still very expensive to be used of a wide scale. Prices of solar panels should drop to 1$/W or less to become a real competitor to conventional power generating methods.

  15. 3G® Tracker says

    $1 million savings? The Nellis Air Force Base could have saved $220, 000!

    …if they used the 3G® Tracker, a Chinese patent that delivers up to 44 percent (44%) more energy than fixed photovoltaic systems.

    The uniquely designed sensor of this system, which won a Chinese patent in 2004, drives an AC/DC motor that intelligently pivots and tilts the PV arrays to face the sun in all directions throughout the day with no weather limitations. The tracking sensitivity of the product is 0.1 to 2 degrees (adjustable), and the searching scope is within a 180-degree horizontal angle and 90-degree elevation angle. Also, the system consumes less than 1‰ of the PV output to operate. The 3G® is solely owned by an individual, and the owner is seeking a patent transfer or other forms of partnership with a company or other individuals. For more information, email to 3g.tracker@gmail.com

  16. jesse says

    It costs about double $/megawatt what building a new coal power plant would currently cost, and it’s completely non-polluting, and all the money went to a small American company. $100 million for 14 megawatts is ok, and I’m sure Nevada’s power needs are growing; this new plant will allow less energy to be diverted to the base from existing plants that can instead serve more homes in the future.

  17. jesse says

    And actually, it costs about the same as what building a new nuclear plant would costs, on a $/megawatt basis. Though typically, when a nuclear facility is built, they build them for around $1 billion.

  18. Paul Felix Schott says

    When this Old World starts getting you down. From Pollution the cost of OIL,
    Heating Fuel,The Fuel you put in your Vehicles, You Electric Bills from
    cooling air conditioners and lights not to speak of the Evil. The TAX that all
    Governments Federal, State, County and City put on everything they can thing of.
    They are supposed to serve us. Not put a burden on its people. That they are
    elected to serve all the people you, not their own Pocket Books.

    The Wicked keep putting higher taxes on everything. Making it a Heavy
    Burden on many that are already struggling just to put food on the table.
    Too many Americans have lost their home to the tax collector or to foreclosures
    from the unjust bankers greed. More are out of work and lost their homes then
    in the GREAT DEPRESSION,in the last ten years. All Americans and many Nations
    need good jobs and more of them. Not more TAXES.

    There is a Industry that will employ workers and is growing by more then 50%
    every year. There is a clear way for all up on the roof the Sun Light is free
    fuel from GOD. Some wicked in Government have been backing Coal, Oil, Gas and
    the Nuclear industries for too many years. These kickbacks to them were called
    Subsidizing Industry Technology. Most all Wise Men and smart Economist and
    Environmentalists call this padding their pockets and subsidizing back to the
    Stone Age.

    This might even been funny in the 1960′s. If it were a Fred Flintstones and
    Barny Rubble Movie. About How to aggressively systematically work with the rich
    to Pollute Ground Water quality to the point it is unsafe to drink or use.
    So to they make a law you can only buy water from their pipe line. And to make
    the air we breath full of Toxic Gases, Sulfur Dioxide and more Radioactive
    and Acid Rain. Injuring all living things on Earth.

    With Fred Flintstones to the Rescue. To help create a Healthier Environment.
    For all Future Generations. By spotlighting Renewable Energy and Free Energy
    like Wind and Solar. On his and his neighbor Barny Rubble’s roof. Even though
    the greedy wicked would do everything to stop or slow them down.

    Just imagine a dream that a 100 years ago one of the smartest man to ever
    live had. A dream after working with Sun Light. That all on Earth would use
    Free Energy Solar Energy.

    That Dream also shared by a man that dreamed this over 2,250 years ago.
    Both These men showed the world in their days. That this dream of Free Energy
    Solar Energy World wide was very possible. Both of these two wise men had
    first hand worked and researched their experiments for not just days, weeks
    put for many years.

    One of these men used chalk on Black Board the others board was a black
    stone table or floor covered with white sand and used a stick. One of these
    two Brilliant men had Kings from all most every Kingdom on Earth come to him
    for advice.

    The other went to almost every nation on Earth. Freely on his own dime
    Teaching All that had ears to hear. He would win the Nobel Prize for doing so.
    For his work on Solar Energy. Only after years of doing research and when most
    Scientist on Earth would not take the nomination for the Nobel Prize in 1921 and knew it clearly belonged to this Brilliant Scientist, this Brilliant scientist was then awarded it in 1922 for the 1921 year.

    Now if this was just a Pretend TV Show or a Movie from a dream. This would
    be a great Sci Fi Story Line. In the 1960′s or even better to day. Sci Fi story
    Movie or dream No.

    All that i Have told you did actually really happen. Albert Einstein won the
    Nobel Prize for what? When Government leaders asked him to go on stage. To
    address the Scientific Community and the World. About what he was given the
    Nobel Prize for. When Albert Einstein Had done so. He addressed them with his
    other accomplishments. For years most Governments did not have a ear for
    Einstein’s Dream.

    Archimedes around 250 B.C. was know most of the World over as a great
    Mathematician. One of the first Scientist and Inventor of many things. Even
    the first Laser Ray from the Sun’s Energy. Science Fiction is what you would
    have though you were seeing if you could go back in time, it was real.To day
    we call it The LASER, Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission. Back then it
    was just called Amplification of the SUN, Archimedes Death Ray.

    Thousand of years later it would be a Laser. That Albert Einstein help
    make possible. That would unlock one of the first books on Earth.
    The METHOD written by Archimedes. Then over more then 250 years later. When
    well Faded was cut from a scroll and put into a book form, to be easier to
    hide from the Romans by St. Paul. This book sold for over 2 million dollars.
    In New york at Christie’s Auction House.

    These two are at the top of the list of the World’s Greatest Scientists,
    Viewed by Scientist around the World.

    Sad that for the last 25 years or so of every teacher asked no matter what
    Grade k through 16. 80% of them did not know Archimedes. Even sadder 90%
    of them could not tell you what one of the most Brilliant Scientist to ever
    live on Earth. Won the Nobel Prize for.

    It was for the work Albert Einstein did to show the World it could get
    Free Energy, Electric from the SUN. PHOTOVOLTAICS

    You ask this question to any Military general 95% of them will get it right.
    Even more surprising 99% of them will know more about Archimedes then most
    Teachers on Earth. Generals know Energy is the key to Winning.

    At almost one thousand to one Archimedes always won against what all knew was
    impossible odds. Archimedes home town city of Syracuse was victorious against the
    greatest Kingdoms Armies on earth many times. Syracuse once was one of the most
    powerful cities in the World.

    I can only ask you to please look into Solar Energy, Solar Power, Solar Panels
    and Solar array on the internet under Images. To see and explore for your self
    then you be the JURY.

    More then 10 years ago the Internet became most of the World’s Universities
    Learning Platform. A Modern Day Archimedes Resource Center.

    The Solar Energy Industry in the year 2010 has leaped ahead farther and
    faster then any other industry on Earth. The Solar Industry in the
    United States of America alone, has grown by more then 50% in 2010 and it looks
    like that number will go up even higher this year 2011.

    The strong benefits of Solar Energy is Clear Clean Air viewed in major cities
    as improving air quality. Clean Cities. By all that use there brain for good .
    View it as protecting the environment and Freedom from OIL.

    While the Federal Government has eased the Tax on Renewable Energy till the end
    of this year 2011. Some cities in the states that these Legislators come from have
    worked against these tax credits.

    By doing so they are showing their true objectives. That they have stock in some power plants and do not want to lose all that Money they have been taking out of your pocket books for too many years. By taxing you on your Energy Bills. They want to Control Power and Tax Everything they can. Not let People be free to get their own power from the top of their own roofs.

    By adding their own taxes to them. These wicked leaders think that this will take away the incentives to harvest the Free Energy from the Sun.

    The Public ability and awareness for all on Earth to use the Natural Solar Energy, is Contributing to Production of Solar Energy Products. Making the Solar Energy Industry the fastest growing on Earth. A Wealth of Free Energy From The SUN.

    The more the wicked try to slow the Solar Energy Industry down, it only Enhances
    involvement and the efforts of the Good at Heart.

    GOD Bless you for reading this.

    The Lord’s little Helper
    Paul Felix Schott

    PS
    through out History Many have tried to wipe the good from our history books. Read History Read His Story.
    Read the Bible Jesus will Bless you more then i can.

Trackbacks

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>