Multiple Solar Technologies Tested At College

An interesting new solar project is now under way at Arizona Western College (AWC) located in Yuma, AZ. The project involves five different types of solar power generation technology, each provided by a different manufacturer and each designed to provide 1 megawatt of solar generated electricity.  Many of the solar installations will use tracking devices that help maximize electricity generation, as well. As far as we are aware, this is the first such project to use five different solar technologies at utility-scale.

The preparations for this project have apparently been underway for years. AWC is working with financier  Main Street Power Company, the local utility Arizona Public Service (APS) and others to make the project a reality.  The 5 megawatt project is currently expected to be completed in October 2011.

image via National Renewable Energy Lab

Once completed, the solar installation is expected to produce just abut all of the campus’ daytime electricity needs. It is estimated that the provided power  could translate to about $40+ million dollars for the college by way of  energy cost savings and other revenues provided through a 30-year power purchase agreement with Main Street Power.

Five different solar technologies will be installed at sites around the campus. One site will use concentrated solar photovoltaic (CPV) technology from SolFocus which is said to include the company’s dual-axis trackers as well.  GreenVolts will also provide CPV, but through a fully integrated system including two-axis trackers and inverters. Thin film solar panels are being provided by Sharp Solar, monocrystalline panels come courtesy of Oregon-based  Solar World,  poly crystalline panels are being provided by Suntech and single-axis trackers are coming from O Solar.

The installation also includes demonstration versions of each technology for corporate and government comparisons, and access by students and researchers. The college will reportedly offer new curriculum at the college which will range from certificates to renewable energy degree programs. The college is also reportedly working on  partnerships with universities for that would allow for ongoing Bachelor and Master degree programs.