Two new N.M. solar plants up and running
Three solar power plants that make up the 53.5 megawatt solar project overseen by SunEdison and Xcel Energy near Carlsbad were activated Thursday.
The site will eventually total five solar plants and generate enough renewable energy to offset the carbon emissions of 288,000 cars after twenty years of production. Equivalently, the 1.9 million megawatt hours generated by the solar farm is expected to power over 186,000 average U.S. homes for one year.
The announcement took place during an activation event held today at the 10.8 MW photovoltaic solar farm located at 800 W. Derrick Rd near the Carlsbad regional airport. Carlsbad City Mayor Dale W. Janway welcomed guests to the public event that highlighted the multi-site solar project that is expected to be fully activated by the end of 2011. The five sites are comprised of utility-scale, photovoltaic solar power plants or solar farms estimated to produce more than 109 million kilowatt-hours of energy in the first year of operation alone.
Financial services juggernaut Wells Fargo helped finance the project to the tune of $200 million. Since 2006, the bank has spent $2.2 billion on renewable energy projects, spanning a portfolio of 220 solar projects and 35 wind projects in 26 states.
The push toward solar energy has encouraged regional academics to reach out to the area’s 25,000 farmers with cost-saving techniques that could reap dividends in a part of the state known for its spotty availability of electric power.
From Western Farm Press:
New Mexico State University’s College of Engineering and the Cooperative Extension Service are teaming up to show New Mexico’s farmers and ranchers how they can use alternative energy in their business. Extension officers can now provide live demonstrations with a portable solar-powered water pump.
Tom Jenkins, professor of engineering technology and head of the department’s renewable energy program, has been working with the Extension service to produce training presentations explaining the use of renewable energy sources in agricultural applications. Taking the idea further, Extension officers wanted to be able to demonstrate to the agricultural community in the state how solar power could be used to pump well water.
An example of the positive impact a few cells can have on a farmer:
A portable demonstration unit … that consists of a rolling cart outfitted with a small solar panel that collects heat energy from sunlight and converts it to electricity. The electricity powers a high-pressure submersible pump in a 50-gallon storage vessel. The pump is equipped with a sophisticated control box that optimizes the power needed to control the speed of the pump. Meters show the current and voltage produced by the solar panel and used by the pump.