Race is on for Largest Concentrating Solar Array in the U.S. and More Green Jobs, Too

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Victor Valley College installs nation's largest concentrating solar array and adds new green jobs curriculumIn far less time than it will take BP to drill the relief wells needed to permanently stop the catastrophic Gulf of Mexico oil spill, a community college has installed the largest concentrating solar array in the U.S. It took only two months of construction to install the six-acre array, which will generate about 2.6 million kilowatt hours of clean, renewable, spill-free energy annually.

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The new solar array will supply about 30% of the electricity for Victor Valley College, which is part of the California community college system, and it will double as a learning center for new green jobs training programs.  With 109 schools, the system serves about 10% of U.S. students, so the quick conversion to solar at one campus adds a huge jolt of momentum to a trend that is converting college campuses across the country to renewable energy while training students for new green jobs, too.

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Victor Valley College and Concentrating Solar Power

The new array has 122 concentrating photovoltaic modules developed by SolFocus, which will also provide materials, training, and instruction for the college’s new green jobs curriculum. SolFocus’s patented optics are capable of concentrating sunlight 650 times, which helps to reduce the amount of high-cost solar materials involved in the construction.  Considering the college’s High Desert location, the reduced size also enables the array to be constructed with a smaller footprint, helping to reduce any interference with plant growth or wildlife movement.  The array was also designed to use a minimal amount of water.

Solar Energy and Renewable Energy Legislation

Developed under California’s statewide solar energy legislative initiatives, the new array demonstrates the importance of setting standards, incentives and priorities that provide businesses like SolFocus with a reliable platform for engaging and investing in ambitious new renewable energy projects and creating new green jobs.  A recent Ernst & Young sustainability survey of global corporate executives also underscores the importance of legislation to push the envelop.  Federal agencies are adopting individual programs that tie renewable energy and green jobs together, and the entire U.S. electric utilities industry is beginning to tilt toward renewable energy through a new research and development initiative.  It appears that the sun is finally starting to set on the fossil fuel industry, needing only one last big kick in the form of national legislation to send it packing sooner rather than later.

Image: Horse race by Tsutomu Takasu via tpower1978 on flickr.com.


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Tina Casey

Tina specializes in advanced energy technology, military sustainability, emerging materials, biofuels, ESG and related policy and political matters. Views expressed are her own. Follow her on LinkedIn, Threads, or Bluesky.

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