Solar photovoltaic power plant being built at Arizona State

Arizona State agreed to build a 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant with Salt River Project and SunPower Corp. at the university's Polytechnic campus in Mesa, Ariz. It uses motion control technology and parabolic mirrors to maximize output.


Salt River Project (SRP), Arizona State University (ASU) and SunPower Corp.  announced an agreement to build a 1-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant at ASU’s Polytechnic campus in Mesa, Ariz. The 1-megawatt facility will be the first commercial deployment of SunPower C7 Tracker technology, a solar photovoltaic tracking system that concentrates the sun’s power seven times designed to achieve the lowest levelized cost of electricity (LCOE) for solar power plants available today.

SunPower is engineering and constructing the plant on the southeast corner of the ASU Polytechnic campus, and will operate and maintain it. Under a purchase-power agreement, SRP will buy the entire output of the solar plant from SunPower and, in a separate agreement, ASU will purchase all of the energy attributable to the plant for use at its Polytechnic campus. The plant is expected to produce an amount of energy equal to that needed to serve about 225 SRP customers’ homes, will require minimal water use, and supports ASU’s renewable energy goals. Construction of the plant is contingent on a number of factors, including receipt of all applicable permits.

The C7 Tracker combines single-axis tracking technology with rows of parabolic mirrors, reflecting light onto 22.8 percent efficient SunPower Maxeon solar cells, the world’s most efficient large-area solar cells. Using mirrors to reduce the number of solar cells required to generate electricity will lower the LCOE by up to 20 percent compared to competing technologies. For example, the 1-megawatt C7 Tracker power plant at ASU will require only 172 kilowatts of SunPower solar cells.

The ASU solar plant will be the third commercial-scale solar facility in the Valley of the Sun to provide energy for SRP. Recently, SRP reached an agreement to purchase the output of a 19-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant in Queen Creek. Copper Crossing – a 20-megawatt facility located in Pinal County and designed and built by SunPower – began providing energy for SRP’s Community Solar program last year. More than 100 schools in 11 Valley school districts are tapping into the power of the sun from that plant to offset a portion of their electric needs through the program. Community Solar is also open to residential customers, allowing customers to invest in solar energy without the upfront costs or maintenance of a rooftop system.

Arizona State University

SunPower Corporation

Salt River Project (SRP)

- Edited by Chris Vavra, Control Engineering,

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