Stanford University and SunPower have completed construction on a 67-megawatt utility-scale solar farm outside of Palmdale, CA, that is projected to produce over half of the electricity needed by the main Stanford campus in Palo Alto, CA. Consisting of 155,000 solar panels over 200 acres of Mojave Desert, the Stanford Solar Generating Station took 5 months to construct and provided the region with 430 solar industry jobs.
“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 solar farm utilizes robots to clean each panel using less than a half cup of water, in turn increasing energy yield by up to 15 percent. Not only does this increase output and save water resources, but also saves man hours that would have been needed to maintain the solar farm. Additionally, the solar panels track the sun and are built to include dampeners that limit damage from strong desert winds while enhancing panel efficiency by keeping them cool.
The solar farm is one of the last major pieces of the Stanford Energy Systems Innovation (SESI) program which seeks to reduce Stanford’s greenhouse emissions by 68 percent and the use of fossil fuels by 65 percent. SESI is a campus-wide proactive approach toward sustainability that dictates efficiency standards for new and existing buildings. Most importantly, it encourages students to develop green lifestyle values they can bring to society beyond their years on campus.
“It’s a living laboratory for a university that champions sustainability, champions innovation, education and research to show the world that this can be done, and it can be done in a way that makes good business sense for the long term,” said Joseph Stagner, executive director of Sustainability and Energy Management at Stanford.
Having already teamed up with SunPower to install rooftop solar arrays on 16 buildings across campus, Stanford is not just using clean energy today, it’s also working toward developing tomorrow’s clean energy tech. For instance, Stanford scientists have found an efficient way to store solar energy by turning water into a chemical with the capability of storing 30 percent of solar energy produced over extended periods of time.