Tucson Electric Power has added new technology to its renewable-energy portfolio by expanding its solar facilities in Springerville, Arizona.
Two new solar arrays have a combined capacity of 10.13 megawatts — 2.83 megawatts of traditional rooftop panels that are mounted on a specialized rack and angled to maximize production, and an innovative 7.3-megawatt low-concentrated photovoltaic single-axis tracking system.
The latter technology — known as C7 — utilizes multiple mirrors to reflect and concentrate sunlight onto a row of photovoltaic cells. Traditional high-concentration systems magnify sunlight onto a single photovoltaic cell.
The C7 array, produced by SunPower, a global solar-panel manufacturer, is the third of its kind in use in the United States.
“A lot of people will be interested in how this system performs and whether it can be successfully deployed on other landscapes,” said Ted Burhans, a Senior Program Manager in TEP’s Renewable Energy department.
The solar site, located approximately 6,600 feet above sea level in Arizona’s White Mountains east of Show Low, receives snow and is prone to strong wind. It slopes upward, gaining 25 feet from the bottom edge to the top. “We had to think outside of the box on our design to make this work,” Burhans said.
The two new arrays, covering about 56 acres, bring TEP’s solar portfolio in Springerville to nearly 17 megawatts — enough energy to power 3,587 homes for a year. All told, TEP has more than 340 megawatts of total renewable generating capacity, enough to meet the electric needs of more than 71,000 homes.
The Springerville solar field, which first opened in 1999/2000 and was expanded in 2010, helps power the Springerville Generating Station, which produces electricity for Tucson customers.
“At TEP, we pride ourselves on testing new, innovative technology,” Burhans said. “The speed at which solar technology is progressing is incredibly rapid. We’re moving along with the industry as prudently as we can.”