Project Focus: SolFocus, Victor Valley College complete 1MW CPV solar power plant (update)

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Victor Valley College and SolFocus have officially opened the college’s 1MW (AC) CPV solar power plant, located in the high desert northeast of Los Angeles. The system, which is connected to the regional electrical grid and operated by Southern California Edison, will produce approximately 2.6 million kilowatt-hours annually, contributing 30% toward the college’s electricity demand.

The six-acre site, located on the college’s main campus in Victorville, consists of 122 SolFocus SF-1100S dual-axis-tracking 8.4KW CPV arrays, featuring 3416 panels incorporating III-V concentrator-cell assemblies supplied by Boeing Spectrolab. It is the largest CPV microgenerating plant in North America, according to SolFocus.

Now that the plant is complete, the college will be adding solar photovoltaic subjects to its curriculum, including installation, operations, and maintenance. SolFocus will support the college in its curriculum development around advanced solar energy technology, including materials, training, and instruction, as part of VVC’s educational push in academic and technical programs focused on sustainability.

“Victor Valley College is a great example for California community colleges and all higher education campuses to incorporate a solar power project on its facilities where feasible. I commend Victor Valley College for its innovation in creating an energy facility that not only provides energy savings, but will educate the future green workforce with practical, real-world job skills,” said José Millan, vice chancellor, California Community Colleges.

Construction of the CPV plant (which is owned and operated by the college) was completed in less than three months, from groundbreaking to grid connection, according to Al McQuilkin, district program manager for gkkworks. In addition to SolFocus and project management company gkkworks, the installation and deployment contracting team included Merrell Johnson, Sachs Electric, Cambridge Concrete, and Sol Orchard.

Funding for the $4.66 million system was partially provided by a voter-approved capital construction bond and other capital funds; the college will also receive as much as $4 million over the next five years through performance-based incentives that are part of the California Solar Initiative program.

Projected cost savings to the college over the 25-year life of the project have been estimated at close to $20 million, according to the project partners, with most of the savings coming in the first few years.

(Additional reporting by Tom Cheyney)

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