The US Army has just put its new White Sands Missile Range Solar Power System online, making it the largest low concentration solar power plant in the world. The plant cost $16.8 million to develop, has a capacity of 4.1MW, more than double the previous record holder, and is made up of over 15,000 solar modules spread out across 42 acres.
Low concentration solar systems are not as efficient as high concentration versions, but they are far cheaper to construct, especially when real estate is cheap and plentiful. The White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico covers 3,200 square miles so land was not an issue to the Army, and thanks to a power purchase agreement they didn’t actually have to pay any money upfront.
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Funded by Bostonia Bank and the Army Corps of Engineers, Siemens Inc. built the entire facility at White Sands as part of a deal that will see the Army buy all of the generated power for the next 25 years.
AS larges as it is, due to the vast energy demands of the army the solar plant will only supply around 10 percent of the energy required by the White Sands complex.
Aware of the vast energy demand that it has, the Army has not only decided to invest in renewable energy, but also undertake an energy culture change called ‘The Power is in Your Hands.’ The goal of the initiative is to create a new attitude towards energy use which will reduce the demand, and therefore make overseas military facilities easier to supply and cheaper to run.
By. James Burgess of Oilprice.com
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