Nellis Solar Power Plant facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Nellis Solar Power Plant
Nellis Solar Power Plant, was the second largest photovoltaic power plant in North America when built
Country United States
Location Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada
Coordinates 36°15′30″N 115°03′10″W / 36.25833°N 115.05278°W / 36.25833; -115.05278Coordinates: 36°15′30″N 115°03′10″W / 36.25833°N 115.05278°W / 36.25833; -115.05278
Commission date December 17, 2007
Owner(s) MEMC

The Nellis Solar Power Plant is a 14-megawatt (MW) photovoltaic power station located within Nellis Air Force Base in Clark County, Nevada, northeast of Las Vegas. The power plant was inaugurated in a ceremony on December 17, 2007, with Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons activating its full operation. On average, it has since generated 32 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually and supplied more than 25% of the power used at the base.

Occupying 140 acres (57 ha) of land leased from the Air Force at the northeastern corner of the base, this ground-mounted solar system employs an advanced sun tracking system, designed and deployed by SunPower. The system contains approximately 70,000 solar panels, and the peak power generation capacity of the plant is approximately 13 MWAC. This means the ratio of average to peak output, or capacity factor, of this plant is around 22%.

The energy generated will support more than 12,000 military and civilians at Nellis who are responsible for Air Force advanced combat training, tactics development and operational testing. Construction began on April 23, 2007, and operation of the first 5 MW began on October 12, 2007.

Design

Nellis consists of 5,821 tilted axis, T20 single axis trackers made by Sunpower, and uses 72,416 solar panels, each 200 watts, and 54 Xantrex (Schneider Electric) GT 250 inverters, each rated 250 kW. The maximum output is therefore inverter limited to 13.5 Megawatts (AC). At full output, the inverters are 96% efficient. Approximately 10% of the panels are mounted on North-South oriented horizontal single axis trackers. About one third of the solar panels were made by Suntech Power, the lead supplier.

Renewable portfolio standard

Giant photovoltaic array
A section of the Nellis Solar Power Plant

In 1999, Nevada passed a renewable portfolio standard (RPS) as part of their 1997 Electric Restructuring Legislation (AB 366). It required any electric providers in the state to acquire actual renewable electric generation or purchase renewable energy credits so that each utility had 1 percent of total consumption in renewables. However, on June 8, 2001, Nevada Governor Kenny Guinn signed SB 372, at the time the country's most aggressive renewable portfolio standard. The law requires that 15 percent of all electricity generated in Nevada be derived from new renewables by the year 2013.

The 2001, revision to the RPS keeps in place Nevada's commitment to expand solar energy resources by requiring that at least 5 percent of the renewable energy projects must generate electricity from solar energy.

In June 2005, the Nevada legislature passed a bill during a special legislative session that modified the Nevada RPS (Assembly Bill 03). The bill extends the deadline and raised the requirements of the RPS to 20 percent of sales by 2015.

Expansion

An extension of the plant called Nellis Solar PV II, which will generate another 15 megawatts of power, began construction on March 24, 2015, and was completed in February 2016.

Presidential visit

Barack Obama speaks at Nellis AFB 2009-05-27 2
President Barack Obama at the Nellis Solar Power Plant in 2009

President Barack Obama visited the facility and addressed an audience of more than 450 people on May 27, 2009.

Production

Generation (MW·h) of Nellis Air Force Base Solar Array
Year Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec Total
2007 1,497 859 398 2,755
2008 535 1,284 3,143 3,923 3,995 5,120 3,630 3,386 3,338 2,382 1,136 627 32,500
2009 614 1,073 3,155 3,651 4,230 3,106 3,672 4,258 3,525 2,323 1,571 821 32,000
2010 443 819 2,023 2,585 3,662 4,322 3,339 4,211 3,925 2,377 2,264 1,330 31,301
2011 1,447 1,940 2,432 3,392 3,745 4,286 3,135 3,681 2,632 2,535 1,553 1,347 32,125
2012 842 1,099 1,587 2,450 3,593 3,710 3,288 3,228 3,672 3,566 2,889 2,236 32,159
2013 1,796 2,200 2,706 3,141 3,381 3,441 2,664 2,658 2,616 3,040 2,069 2,046 31,758
2014 1,527 1,597 2,302 2,426 2,870 3,291 2,882 3,134 3,244 3,287 2,793 1,849 31,202
2015 1,521 2,134 2,767 3,130 2,867 3,159 2,925 2,876 2,652 2,341 2,228 1,829 30,428
Total 256,227

Nellis Solar Power Plant Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.