This is an excerpt from EERE Network News, a weekly electronic newsletter.

December 19, 2007

Nellis Air Force Base Hosts the Largest U.S. Solar PV System

Photo of a large number of solar tracking devices installed on an expansive area of dirt. Four rows of the devices are visible, and a view down one row shows 17 tracking devices holding solar panels, with a similar row of tracking device foundations stretching beyond that. Each tracking device consists of seven solar panels mounted on a central bar, which is tilted up by about 40 degrees. The bottom of each bar is mounted to a concrete footer, and the top is supported by a tripod mounted on concrete footers.

The solar power array at Nellis Air Force Base uses tracking devices to keep the solar panels pointed toward the sun. Tilted toward the south, each set of solar panels rotates around a central bar to track the sun from east to west. Enlarge this image.
Credit: Nellis AFB

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 Corporation 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% 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. See the SunPower press release.