Aerojet, Solar Power, SMUD complete 6 MW solar installation at Aerojet’s Sacramento site

Aerojet, a GenCorp company, Solar Power Inc. and SMUD announced thatthe companies have completed the 2.4 megawatts (MW) expansion of theexisting 3.6 MW solar system at Aerojet’s Sacramento facility.

The site is located within the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD) and has now increased its capacity to 6MW, making it the largestsingle-site industrial photovoltaic solar electric generating facilityin California and one of the largest in the country. The installation of this array was made possible through the public-private partnershipthat was created by Aerojet, SMUD, Solar Power, Inc. and the EPA lastyear.

The solar array at Aerojet is a ground-mounted systemutilizing a single-axis tracking system that follows the sun’s coursethroughout the day to maximize electricity production. The 6MW systemutilizes 22 tracking arrays and more than 29,000 of Solar Power Inc.’sSPI 205 watt photovoltaic modules. Based on its performancecharacteristics, the SPI 205 watt module is currently ranked thenumber-one PV solar module in its class with the California EnergyCommission.

All of the power generated by the 6MW system will beutilized by Aerojet operations. The electricity produced could power 30percent of Aerojet’s extensive groundwater treatment projects in theSacramento region. “This initiative is a major step in Aerojet’s efforts to help the environment, reduce its carbon footprint, and returnapproximately 40 acres of a Superfund site to beneficial use — inessence, to turn it into an environmental asset,” said Aerojet’s VicePresident of Sustainability, Ron Samborsky.

The local communitybenefits as well. The project replaces the need for nearly 10 GigaWatthours of energy per year that would otherwise have been generated fromfossil fuel resources. Additionally, solar technology is most efficientduring peak energy use periods, i.e. hot summer afternoons. It is avaluable part of increasing the stability and reliability of the SMUDgrid.

The Aerojet-Solar Power Inc.-SMUD partnership directlyresponds to increased federal and state regulations concerning climatechange and reliability. The 6 MW Aerojet array represents an approximate 30 percent increase in the solar portion of the SMUD renewable energyportfolio. “The key is how to address these challenges in a way thatmaintains quality of life, reliability and affordability,” said JohnDiStasio, SMUD General Manager and CEO.

The Aerojet 6 MW-DC solar array will help SMUD conform to California state law (SB-1) mandatingthe implementation of solar PV systems that meet a state-wide goal of125 MW by 2016 intended to lower the costs of solar PV.

Inaddition, state law requires utilities to meet 20 percent of theirelectricity demand with renewable energy by 2010. SMUD is the firstlarge utility in the state that is on track to meet the 20 percentrenewable mark. “SMUD has taken a long view. We have made earlyinvestments in renewable resources that, combined with our hydroelectric resources, represent a substantial down payment on a low-carbonfuture,” said DiStasio.

“We are very pleased to have completedthis second phase of system construction,” said Steve Kircher, chairmanand CEO of Solar Power Inc. “Aerojet, SMUD and the EPA have beenwonderful to work with throughout the entire project. The entire 40-acre array is testimony to how the creative energies of public and privateenterprises can be focused to achieve objectives that benefit not onlythe organizations involved, but an entire region both economically andenvironmentally.”

During construction of the 40-acre array,approximately 200 skilled workers were employed to build the system andanother 100 indirect jobs were created to support constructionactivities. Environmental benefits of the array are significant.

During its first year of use, the Aerojet system is expected to offsetapproximately 6,000 tons of carbon dioxide, 23.8 tons of sulfur dioxideand approximately 9.3 tons of nitrogen oxide that would have otherwisebeen produced using fossil fuel power production.

The first-yearnet clean energy benefits equate to removing approximately 1,075combustion engine vehicles from California’s highways or the clean airbenefits realized from planting 1,396,423 trees. With a system lifeexpectancy of 25 years, the cumulative life-cycle environmental offsetsfor a system of this scope are significant.