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

January 14, 2004

New Solar Power Systems in California and Nevada Break Records

December was a month of record-breaking solar power announcements, as a vitamin manufacturer installed the largest photovoltaic system in Nevada and plans proceeded in California for the largest solar power system yet installed at a community college. In Nevada, Las Vegas Solar Electric began construction in December of a 214.5-kilowatt photovoltaic system on the roof of YourVitamins, Inc., a vitamin manufacturing company in Henderson, about 15 miles southeast of Las Vegas. The solar power installation will be the largest in the state when construction is finished in mid-January. In California, construction is underway on a one-megawatt solar power system at Cerro Coso College, a community college in Ridgecrest, about 75 miles east of Bakerfield in the Mojave Desert. WorldWater Corporation is supplying the photovoltaic system, which should be completed in June. See the WorldWater Corporation press release and the announcement from Las Vegas Solar Electric.

A number of other large solar power installations have been built or announced in recent months. Provision Technologies, Inc. is currently planning to install the largest photovoltaic system on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, a 25-kilowatt system. Solera Energy installed an 88-kilowatt solar power system at a public agency in Sewell, New Jersey, in November. The system uses solar modules from Sharp Electronics Corporation. In late September, a 114-kilowatt solar power system was installed at Kettle Foods headquarters in Salem, Oregon. And on Edwards Air Force Base in southern California, SunPower Corporation installed a 5-kilowatt system at the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center. Though small, the system is the first to incorporate SunPower's A-300 solar cells, which are able to convert 20 percent of the sun's radiation into electricity. See the press releases from Provision Technologies, Sharp Electronics (PDF 14 KB), the Oregon Solar Energy Industries Association (PDF 68 KB), and SunPower. Download Acrobat Reader.

Despite a growing number of large solar power installations, the news is not all good for the U.S. solar power industry. AstroPower, Inc. announced on January 7th that it was laying off 10 percent of its workforce, a total of 45 employees. AstroPower has been facing difficulties since July 2003, when it was delisted from Nasdaq. The Delaware-based company laid off 10 percent of its work force in August 2003. See the AstroPower announcement.