Stanford, SunPower dedicate new solar farm in California

Stanford University said Dec,. 5 that it has held a dedication ceremony for 67-MW Stanford Solar Generating Station project, which will reduce the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 68% and use of fossil fuels by 65%.

“When I think that Stanford University, our little city, is running off the sun, that’s phenomenal,” said Joseph Stagner, executive director of Sustainability and Energy Management at Stanford, in his remarks during the dedication ceremony.

For the project, Stanford teamed up with SunPower, a solar energy company that designed and built the plant in a western valley of the Mojave Desert, about 20 miles north of Palmdale. The area around the plant is high desert.

“Stanford’s commitment to use solar power to serve 53 percent of its total campus electricity demand demonstrates unparalleled leadership in responsibly meeting our energy and climate challenges,” said Tom Werner, SunPower CEO and president. “SunPower is proud to partner with Stanford on its on-campus rooftop solar systems, as well as Stanford Solar Generating Station. The SSGS helps the university meet its bold renewable energy goals without requiring use of any on-campus land, an innovative approach that offers the benefits of large-scale solar regardless of space constraints.”

The construction took five months and was done by more than 430 workers. The 67-MW plant contains about 19.9 million solar cells and covers approximately 200 acres. The panels track with the sun. The solar array uses robots to clean the panels. The robots can increase efficiency of the energy harvest by up to 15%.

Bill Kelly, SunPower vice president, Commercial Americas, and university provost John Etchemendy also addressed the crowd at the dedication. “SunPower is extremely proud to be sharing a podium with Stanford in the dedication of the 67-megawatt solar generating station,” said Kelly, adding that Stanford’s mission to become a more sustainable campus is also making a difference in renewable energy development in general.

Although the station is not wired directly to Stanford, Stanford will buy all the power the station generates for the next 25 years at a fixed price that is about 20% less than what Stanford had originally expected to pay for electricity through the project, explained Stagner.

With the Stanford Solar Generating Station properly celebrated and test exports of energy already underway, it is forecasted to be officially up and running Dec. 13, weeks ahead of schedule, the university added.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.