CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


Bright spot for one California college: A solar farm

SolFocus is teaming up with Victor Valley College, building an on-campus solar farm that will also be used as a teaching facility.

Installation in progress of the SolFocus solar farm at Victor Valley College. SolFocus

Amid all the budget cuts at California's university and community college systems that administrators and students are facing, good news on a California campus is hard to come by these days.

Here is one bright spot.

Victor Valley College, a community college in Victorville, Calif., is partnering with SolFocusto add solar energy as a campus energy source and a part of its curriculum. It plans to install a 1-megawatt high-concentrator photovoltaic (CPV) solar farm on 6 acres of its campus.

The installation once completed will save the campus about a third in annual energy use and raise up to $4 million over five years through performance-based incentives from the California Solar Initiative (CSI) program.

SolFocus is known for its honeycomb CPV panels. SolFocus

CPVs are a unique type of solar panel in which solar rays are concentrated by either lenses or mirrors onto solar cells to maximize electricity output. SolFocus, a start-up that grew out of Xerox's Palo Alto Research Park, is particularly known for its honeycomb array design in which a dish of reflective optics magnifies solar rays 650 times and focuses that sunlight onto high-efficiency solar cells.

As with all CPVs, the high-concentrator solar panel should in theory give the college the same bang for its buck while taking up less space than the usual flat-panel solar system would require.

When complete the farm will produce 2.5 million kilowatt-hours per year, which is roughly 30 percent of the university's annual electricity use, according to Victor Valley College.

The 6-acre plant will also double as a teaching facility with SolFocus partnering with Victor Valley College to develop a solar-energy technology curriculum and training program.