26 Nov 07. Nellis AFB Leads the Way on Solar Power. Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., is home to North America’s largest solar power array — and it didn’t cost the U.S. Air Force a dime. The photovoltaic cell farm is the product of a unique arrangement among the Air Force, energy corporations and the state of Nevada. Its backers say the project will save the Air Force money, earn the companies revenue and cut air pollution. The array includes about 70,000 silicon-based solar panels that rotate 30 degrees throughout the day to collect maximum light. Some panels are “bifacial,” meaning the backs of the panels are coated in crystals, too, to collect light reflected off the hard desert earth, said Michelle Price, base energy manager with the 99th Civil Engineer Squadron.
The system’s maximum output is about 15 megawatts, enough to power about 2,200 homes, or fill about a quarter of the base’s needs, Price said.
“Times of day, it’ll be more, times of seasons of the year, it’ll be more,” she said. The first 5 megawatts of production came on line Oct. 12. The state energy office has by now OK’d another 5 megawatts for use with the last 5 megawatts of production slated for activation in early or mid-December, Price said. All the power goes directly to the base, she said. In 2004, a few solar power companies pitched the idea of a solar farm to Nellis. (Source: Defense News)