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 SolFocus to 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.
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.