SunPower Corp. expects to start construction this month on a 10-MW (DC) photovoltaic solar power plant that is expected to generate up to 18,000 MWh per year for the Redstone Arsenal U.S. Army post in Alabama. SunPower is delivering the energy from the plant under a power purchase agreement, allowing the Army to buy 100 percent of the power generated by the plant and avoid the costs of power plant construction, maintenance and operation.
“This represents a continuation of the Army’s deployment of renewable energy at installations across the country. It is symbolic of the changing dynamics of energy produced in the United States, especially in the Southeast,” said Richard Kidd, deputy assistant secretary of the Army (Energy and Sustainability). “The project substantially increases the amount of installed solar power in Alabama at no additional cost to consumers. It is also testament to what the Army can accomplish by working with industry stakeholders such as SunPower, local officials, and other partners such as the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and Redstone Arsenal.”
This is the first power purchase agreement project solicited through a renewable and alternative energy Multiple Award Task Order Contract (MATOC) awarded by Huntsville Center. It will involve a 27-year Renewable Energy Services Agreement and lease with SunPower, which has designed the project, and will construct, operate and maintain it.
Under the power purchase agreement, SunPower will deliver approximately 18,000 megawatt hours of electricity to the Army annually. All electricity generated by the plant will be purchased at a cost equal to or less than Redstone Arsenal’s current and projected utility rates. The solar system is also being designed as microgrid ready so it may be connected to a future microgrid and thereby contribute to the overall energy security of the installation.
SunPower designed and is installing a SunPower Oasis Power Plant system at the site. The Oasis system is a fully-integrated, modular solar power block that is engineered for rapid and cost-effective deployment of utility-scale solar projects while optimizing land use. The technology includes robotic solar panel cleaning capability that uses 75 percent less water than traditional cleaning methods and can help improve system performance by up to 15 percent.
The U.S. Army has a goal to derive 25 percent of total energy consumed from renewable sources by 2025, as well as a commitment to deploy one gigawatt of renewable energy on Army installations by 2025.
— Solar Builder magazine