May 6, 2012 – Vol.17 No.8
SEVEN DAYS OF SOLAR 4-22-12.
There’s a birth date for the commercialization photovoltaic (PV) solar energy: March 17, 1958. That’s the day the world’s first PV powered satellite – Vanguard I – was launched into orbit from what is now NASA’s Kennedy Space Center.
Vanguard 1 is still up there orbiting the planet every 134 minutes and is expected to remain there for nearly another 200 years. The six PV solar cells on the little 3.2 lb, 6.4 inch diameter aluminum sphere gave up producing electricity in 1964 and Vanguard fell silent.
Though the first PV cells were developed at Bell Laboratories in 1954, the then-expensive devices were destined to obscurity until Vanguard was launched. Vanguard proved that PV solar cells were a viable source of energy. Nearly every satellite launched since then, as well as numerous other space vehicles, have used solar PV as a source of energy. It was the space industry with NASA as partner, that laid the foundation for the modern terrestrial solar industry.
Now with 54 years of photovoltaics-in-space experience, NASA wants to take solar power to a new level through a Requests for Proposals (RFP) to develop solar array systems to enable space electric propulsion systems of the future. NASA's Space Technology program is seeking proposals for solar array system structures from all potential U.S. organizations, including NASA centers and other government agencies, federally funded research and development centers, educational institutions, industry and nonprofit organizations.
The NASA solicitation will cover two acquisition phases and involve a competitive selection process. During Phase I, proposers will design, analyze and test a scalable solar array system capable of generating more than 30 kW of power. The Phase I teams also will identify the most critical technological risks of extending their concept to 250 kW or greater power levels. The intent of Phase II is to prove flight readiness through an in-space demonstration of an advanced, modular and extendable solar array system. After Phase II, follow-on applications will range from high power communications satellites to solar electric propulsion systems.
NASA expects to make up to three awards for Phase I proposals, with total combined costs of approximately $15 to $20 million, based on availability of funds.
Notices of intent (NOI) to submit proposals are due May 14, 2012. Final proposals are due June 11, 2012
Who knows what the future of solar in space will bring here on Earth.
During the week beginning April 22, 2012, this publication received news announcements regarding more than 101 megawatts (MW) of solar projects completed and nearly 195 MW under construction.
--- Constellation Energy and the Town of Swampscott, Massachusetts, have announced the completion of an aggregate 450 kW (DC) solar generation project at Swampscott Middle School and Swampscott High School.
Baltimore-based Constellation Energy owns and will maintain the solar power systems. In return, the town will purchase and receive all of the electricity generated by the solar panels at a fixed rate from Constellation Energy under a 20-year solar services agreement.
The solar generation project is comprised of approximately 1,960 rooftop photovoltaic panels – 383 kilowatts installed at Swampscott High School and 67 kilowatts installed at Swampscott Middle School.
Students and staff can monitor the amount of electricity supplied by the solar power systems via the school district’s website, as well as generation totals by week, month or year. Click here to view solar generation data for Swampscott Middle School and here to view solar generation data for Swampscott High School.
--- Canadian Solar, ESA Renewables and Zep Solar have announced the successful completion of a 1.26 MW commercial rooftop solar project in New Bern, North Carolina, that provides clean, renewable solar energy to approximately 100 homes. This project utilizes Canadian Solar’s Zep Compatible (tm) PV modules and Zep Solar’s patented Zep System III mounting and grounding technology, and was built and will be maintained and operated by ESA Renewables.
Zep Solar’s installation system along with Canadian Solar’s PV modules and ESA’s turnkey solutions helped bring significant cost savings to the project, which is one of the largest in eastern North Carolina’s local utility territory, deploying 5,376 PV modules to cover 177,160 square feet of rooftop expanse.
--- NRG Energy, MidAmerican Solar and First Solar gathered with federal and local officials this week at the 290 megawatt (AC) Agua Caliente solar project in Yuma County, Arizona, to celebrate the project’s first 100 MW being delivered to the grid, making it North America’s largest photovoltaic (PV) power plant in operation.
Once completed in 2014, Agua Caliente will be one of the world’s largest PV power plants, supplying enough clean, renewable solar energy to power more than 225,000 homes. The project’s construction phase is creating an average of 400 jobs, with over 80 percent of the workforce coming from Arizona.
First Solar designed and is constructing the project using its advanced thin-film photovoltaic modules and will operate and maintain the facility for NRG and MidAmerican Solar. Pacific Gas and Electric Company has a long-term power purchase agreement for all of the project’s generation, which is projected to offset approximately 5.5 million metric tons of carbon dioxide over 25 years, the equivalent of taking over 40,000 cars off the road annually.
--- Bostonia Group provided $17.5 million of funding to allow Siemens Government Technologies, Inc. to install a 4.465 MW solar photovoltaic (PV) generating system and energy conservation measures for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at the White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
Upon completion,the project will be the largest solar PV system operating on U.S. Army land, for the direct benefit of the U.S. Army, and will help White Sands Missile Range achieve 10.8 percent renewable energy by the end of 2012, compared to the .5 percent currently at the installation.
Construction is underway and will be completed in December 2012.
White Sands Missile Range is a Test and Evaluation Command Installation operated primarily for the support of research, development, test, and evaluation of weapon and space systems, subsystems, and components
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