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More California commercial sites add solar PV power systems

The number of commercial solar PV power systems in California continues to increase, with the recent activation of several new installations throughout the state. The latest arrays account for more than 3 MW of capacity and will produce hundreds of thousands of kilowatt-hours of clean energy.

The largest of the new installations can be found in Fresno, where SunPower teamed with Grundfos Pumps on a 1.1-MW plant at the customer's site. The ground-mounted arrays are comprised of the solar company's own modules integrated into its Tracker dual-axis system.

The Grundfos project is funded through a SunPower Access power purchase agreement, with Grandfos buying the electricity from Morgan Stanley, which will own and operate the system.

In another example of the photovoltaic revolution in California viticulture, Premier Power designed, built, and commissioned a $5.3 million 825.4-KW solar system at two locations owned by the Trinchero Family Estates winemaking concern.

Most of the PV can be found on three rooftops at the company's Lodi winery, with 1024 GE and 2420 SunPower panels combining for more than 761 KW of installed DC power, all of which runs through a set of five Xantrex inverters, according to Premier sources. The remaining 320 GE modules connected to two Satcon inverters power a 64-KW array running pumps at the company's irrigation pond near its Clements vineyard.

The Trinchero systems will provide some 1.1 million KW-hours of electricity annually.

The Marshall Medical Center in Cameron Park now has a 669-KW PV array, capable of producing more than 938,600 KW-hr of power per year. The system was designed, engineered, and installed by Solar Power Inc., which financed the project through a PPA with Solar Power Partners.

SPI used 3344 of its own modules, produced at its Chinese manufacturing plant, for the project, deployed in fixed mounts on several car-park structures.

Lithographix's facility in Hawthorne near Los Angeles International Airport (pictured above) claims to have the largest PV power system of any commercial printing plant in the U.S. The newly commissioned 650-KW installation was envisioned and put together by integrator ThinkSolar in cooperation with contractor Pacific Solar Energy.

The rooftop arrays at the 250,000-square-foot building feature about 2240 Schott ASE300 panels, chosen because of their durability and double-glass encapsulation, according to the project partners. Solectria inverters and an integrated set of Unirac ballasted racking make up other key elements of the balance of system.

The solar array is expected to offset up to 30% of the Lithographix facility's electricity needs.

Molly Tirpak Sterkel, director of the California Solar Initiative, told the San Jose Mercury News earlier this month that the amount of solar installed in the state during 2008 was nearly double that of the 2007 figure. Much of that total was deployed on commercial/industrial rooftops and ground-mount systems, according to other sources.

About 150 MW or more of new panels were installed in California last year, compared to 81 MW the previous year, Sterkel said. With more than half of the solar capacity in the United States, she told the paper that California ranks as the world's number-four solar entity after Germany, Spain, and Japan.

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