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The sun's a moving target

Solar panels tracking sun at WCWD. Courtesy Solar Power Partners.
Written by Harry Fuller, Contributor

Solar panels tracking sun at WCWD. Courtesy Solar Power Partners.

Tracking the path of the sun seems simple enough, until you imagine moving huge solar panels so they collect the maximum rays all day long. Now, not so simple. But a public utlitity and a private solar firm have just launched the world's largest solar tracking power generation plant. It's at the West County Wastewater District’s (WCWD) Richmond, CA, treatment facility. The project is a partnership between WCWD, Solar Power Partners and Premier Power. Cost to sewer customers? Zero. This installation will provide a third more ower than fixed installations, say the partners. The private firms provided the capital and they guarantee the sewer plant a fixed electricity ratefor two decades. Here are some stats on the solar tracking installation: WCWD's installation spans five acres of land and consists of 89 tracking arrays. Measuring approximately 22-by-36 feet each, an array has 56 modules with a total peak power of about 11.24 kilowatts (kW) each. The trackers sit above ground on concrete ballasts, which distribute the weight on the challenging marshy mud at the site. After the system expires, WCWD can remove the trackers and ballasts, returning the land to its original state, leaving no trace. Premier Power designed the system to produce approximately 1.97 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity annually.

Links: Solar Power Partners. Premier Power.

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