Solar Takes Off At Air Force Academy

Colorado Springs Utilities and SunPower announced the groundbreaking on a 6-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic system for the Air Force Academy, and the top brass says there’s more to come. That a traditional institution like the Air Force Academy would be gung-ho for renewables might be surprising, but the academy is proud of its engineering programs and sees new technology as a natural fit.

“From the development of the academy’s first energy strategic plan in 2009 to our all-encompassing ‘Falcon Green’ (environmental) program to the amazing solar array that we break ground on today, I’m here to tell you, we’re just getting started,” base commander Col. Rick LoCastro told the Colorado Springs Gazette.

U.S. Air Force Academy, Colorado Springs, CO

image via U.S. Air Force Academy

Funding for the $18.3 million project to power the academy is coming from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. California-based SunPower is adept at getting government work; it noted in its press release that it “has more than 50 MW of solar power installed or under contract at government facilities.”

The company said the PV installation will use high-efficiency panels with the the trademarked “SunPower Tracker” system. “The Tracker follows the sun’s movement during the day, increasing sunlight capture by up to 25 percent over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements,” SunPower said. The installation will cover 30 acres.

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Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.

1 Comment

  • Reply December 13, 2010


    Thanks a lot for the upcoming eyesore we all get to look at for the rest of our lives. I hope some big wig gets huge gratification for this waste of tax money and the blight it causes. They could have built this thing completely out of sight, but no, to show off the great works, we all have to look at this monster. Again, thanks Air Force.

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