World’s Largest Low Concentration PV Solar Farm

whitesandslcpvsolar

The U.S. Army has unveiled a 4.1 megawatt LCPV facility at White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
   
The system will generate approximately 10 million kilowatt-hours of electricity each year and provide an estimated annual power cost saving of $930,000.
   
Including a 375 kW solar carport at the base, solar energy will now supply approximately 10 percent of the total power consumed at White Sands Missile Range and reduce carbon emissions by 7,400 tons annually. 
    
“A sunny location like New Mexico provides an ideal site for solar power,” said Garrison Commander Colonel Leo Pullar. “This project illustrates the U.S. Army’s commitment to going green, our focus on operating on net zero energy, and doing what we can to help protect the environment.”
   
Given the focus of White Sands Missile Range, the idea of the facility “going green” may sound a little off; but the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions does strike a small blow in the climate change battle.
   
Construction of the $16.8 million solar farm commenced in April 2012 and was completed in December last year. The installation incorporates ground-mounted single-axis Solaria tracking systems that follow the sun across the sky, providing a 30% increase in energy yield compared to fixed systems.
  
Siemens Industry, Inc. will maintain and operate the arrays; selling the electricity generated to White Sands Missile Range at a cost equivalent to what the Army is  currently paying the local power company. 
  
Low Concentration PV (LCPV) differs from High Concentration PV (HCPV) in that it operates with a solar concentration of 2-100 suns and conventional or slightly modified standard silicon solar cells can be utilized. This helps reduce cost, as does the fact cells do not require active cooling. 
  
HCPV systems require special solar cells and high-capacity heat sinks to prevent cells from being destroyed and to address temperature related performance losses.
   
Solaria, which also supplied the modules for the White Sands Missile Range installation, states its LCPV modules employ low-cost technology to provide reliable performance while maintaining a form factor of conventional solar panels.