A new 1-MW solar power plant is being planned for Arizona State University’s Polytechnic Campus in Mesa, Ariz. The project will be built as a partnership between the school, Phoenix-based utility Salt River Project and San Jose, Calif.-based SunPower Corp.

Photo courtesy SunPower
SunPower's C7 Tracker technology is designed to concentrate the sun's power sevenfold by combining single-axis tracking with rows of parabolic mirrors.

SunPower will engineer, construct, operate and maintain the plant on the southeast corner of the ASU Polytechnic campus. SRP has agreed to buy the entire output of the solar plant, and ASU will purchase an equivalent amount of energy for use at the campus.

The project will be the first commercial facility to utilize SunPower’s new solar tracking system, C7 Tracker, which combines single-axis tracking technology with rows of parabolic mirrors, reflecting light onto 22.8% efficient SunPower Maxeon solar cells. By using mirrors to reduce the number of solar cells required to generate electricity, the design is expected to lower the lowest levelized cost of electricity by up to 20% compared to competing technologies, according to SunPower officials.

"The installation of SunPower's ground-breaking technology helps move ASU closer to our 2014, 20-MW solar energy-generating goal," says David Brixen, ASU's associate vice president of Facilities Development and Management. By the start of 2012, ASU was generating 14.5 megawatts of solar energy.

ASU Polytechnic, which received LEED-Gold certification when built, was awarded Best of 2009 by Southwest Contractor magazine (now ENR Southwest) and Best of the Best 2009 award by Engineering News Record in the green building category.

Construction schedule is contingent on permitting and other factors.