SunPower has broken ground on a 28MW solar photovoltaic system at Vandenberg Air Force Base near Lompoc, California, a project expected to create about 150 jobs at peak of construction. Upon operation, it's anticipated to be the largest behind-the-meter solar power system in the Air Force where 100 percent of the energy generated will be consumed onsite.
"A solar project that is grid-connected to the Base enables us to meet our electric demand with renewable energy and increase our energy security," said Ken Domako, Chief, Portfolio Optimization, Vandenberg Air Force Base. "We look forward to increasing the Air Force's energy independence with competitively priced, dependable solar from SunPower."
The SunPower® solar power system will be installed on land that has gone unused since 2007, just outside the gates of Vandenberg where Air Force housing once stood. The Base will purchase energy generated by the plant under a power purchase agreement (PPA), providing Vandenberg with competitive, fixed electricity rates over the next 25 years. The Air Force will retain all environmental credits associated with the system.
"The Air Force has an aggressive target to meet that requires full energy assurance for key missions," said Dan Gerdes, Air Force Civil Engineer Center rates and renewables division chief. "By diversifying our energy mix at Vandenberg to include SunPower's high efficiency solar technology, we're confident we'll have the electrons we need, when we need them, creating long-term value for our operations."
Once complete, the system will provide a projected 54,500 megawatt hours of energy annually, meeting about 35 percent of Vandenberg's total energy needs. It will also contribute to the entire Air Force's goal of meeting 25 percent of its electricity demand with renewables.
"SunPower is pleased to offer a cost- competitive renewable energy solution to the U.S. Air Force, which will provide increasing economic and environmental value to the Vandenberg Air Force Base for 25 years," said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president. "We congratulate the Air Force for its commitment to renewable energy, and are proud to help the Air Force achieve its sustainability goals with SunPower's innovative solar solutions."
As a trusted solar advisor to military agencies, SunPower has designed and installed solar power systems at dozens of federal government facilities. Most notable projects include a 13.2-megawatt and a 15-megawatt installation at Nellis Air Force Base in Nevada – operating since 2007 and 2016 respectively – as well as a 13.78-megawatt installation at NAWS China Lake in California – operating since 2012.
(Photo: PV Power plant at U.S. Air Force Academy. Courtesy to SunPower)