Evergreen Valley College in San Jose, California, has become home to a 1.5MW tracking solar array.

Located on the college campus, the ground-mounted PV system is owned by the San Jose Evergreen Community College District and financed with locally approved bonds the college using to upgrade its facilities.

The array was designed and constructed by US PV developer SunPower while Gilbane Building Company, a privately-owned real estate development firm, acted as the programme and construction manager. SunPower will also provide operations and maintenance services for the next 15 years.

The array is equipped with SunPower’s T0 Single-Axis Solar Tracker, which helps to capture up to 25% more sunlight compared with conventional fixed-tilt systems. According to SunPower, the tracker also requires 20% less land than conventional crystalline fixed tilt systems and 60% less than thin-film systems.

The system is expected to provide enough power to meet a third of the campus’ electricity demand for the next 25 years, helping the college to save more than US$12 million in costs.

An increasing number of US educational institutes have started to equip their buildings with solar arrays in order to save on utility bills in recent months. Most of the activity is focused in several states including California, Nevada and Ohio.

Commenting on this trend, Howard Wenger, SunPower President of Regions said: "Community college and school districts in California are seizing the opportunity to help the state meet its growing energy demand and renewable energy goals. To date, SunPower has more than 50MW of solar power installed or under construction at educational facilities throughout California, helping districts reduce electricity costs and increase savings to general funds. Evergreen Valley College understands the significant return on investment that SunPower systems deliver, and the added value of working with an experienced partner."