14-MW Solar PV Plant Completed at Naval Station

The U.S. Navy in late October saw the completion of its largest solar generation system, a 13.78-MW (DC) solar photovoltaic (PV) power system at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake (NAWS China Lake) in California. The plant, which is reportedly generating more than 30% of China Lake’s annual energy load, is uniquely the first federal agency project to be financed through a 20-year solar power purchase agreement (PPA) and could become a template for future large-scale solar projects.

The project is owned by a MetLife Inc. subsidiary, but it was built and will be operated and maintained by California firm SunPower. NAWS China Lake is reportedly buying power from the installation at up to 30% below the rate available through 10-year PPAs, which provides the Navy with “a long-term hedge against rising power prices and required no initial capital investment,” the San Jose–headquartered company said. The PPA, secured under a long-term energy procurement authority requires no obligations from the Navy.

7. Model solar. The U.S. Navy’s largest solar installation—a 13.78-MW solar photovoltaic power system at Naval Air Weapons Station China Lake—was completed in October. The plant features SunPower’s Oasis power plant, which is engineered to optimize land use. Courtesy: SunPower

The plant features SunPower’s Oasis power plant (Figure 7), a modular solar power block that is engineered to optimize land use. Each power block integrates the SunPower T0 Tracker with SunPower’s high-efficiency solar panels, pre-manufactured system cabling, the Oasis smart inverter, and the Oasis operating system.

Sonal Patel is POWER’s senior writer.