Technology  January 22, 2010

CSU dedicates 2-megawatt solar plant

FORT COLLINS – Partners from as far away as Spain joined Colorado State University leaders and Gov. Bill Ritter to dedicate the school’s 2-megawatt solar plant on Friday.

The solar plant, located on 15 acres at the university’s Foothills Campus, will supply about 10 percent of the power needed on the Foothills Campus. The project is expected to save the university around $2 million in energy costs during the next 20 years as the result of a locked-in electric rate from Xcel Energy.

And CSU is already in the early stages of planning a potential expansion of the site.

The project, part of Xcel’s Solar Rewards program, is owned and operated by Madrid, Spain-based Fotowatio Renewable Ventures. This is the first project completed as part of a $200 million Solar Fund V that raised the capital last year. Fotowatio tapped Changzhou, China-based Trina Solar (NYSE: TSL) to supply the 8,000 panels for the project, while Fort Collins’ Advanced Energy Industries Inc. (Nasdaq: AEIS) supplied the inverters, which convert the DC power produced by the panels into usable AC current. The panels are operating around 14 percent efficiency.

At the ceremony, Ritter pointed to the project as another example of the state’s dedication to advancing the new energy economy.

“In a variety of ways, it demonstrates that we can set goals and achieve them,” Ritter said, adding that the project not only saves money, but also created jobs during its construction.

CSU President Tony Frank said that the site will also present an opportunity for research and learning at the university. He feels that the project might have had a larger impact as a showcase for the state had they been able to integrate low-cost solar panels from local manufacturer Abound Solar, which uses technology developed at CSU. Abound was not at a stage in its production launch where it could have participated in the project, however.

“It’s a shame that the timing for that didn’t work,” Frank said. He added that this will not be the last solar project for CSU, so there will be opportunity in the future to work with Abound.

Brian Chase, CSU’s director of facilities management, explained that the university is already reviewing a proposal for more than doubling the size of the site. Chase said the potential project is in early stages and would require review and approval from the CSU Board of Governors as well as successful negotiations with Xcel Energy.

FORT COLLINS – Partners from as far away as Spain joined Colorado State University leaders and Gov. Bill Ritter to dedicate the school’s 2-megawatt solar plant on Friday.

The solar plant, located on 15 acres at the university’s Foothills Campus, will supply about 10 percent of the power needed on the Foothills Campus. The project is expected to save the university around $2 million in energy costs during the next 20 years as the result of a locked-in electric rate from Xcel Energy.

And CSU is already in the early stages of planning a potential expansion of the…

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