TexasIsHot – Energy Efficiency

Energy Savings

Nov 16 2010

The Blue Wing Solar Project: “Truly Utility-Scale”

The Blue Wing Solar Project: “Truly Utility-Scale”Recently, in what is destined to be a long series of profiles of solar projects bigger than ten megawatts, we looked at Agile Energy’s efforts to develop a 50 megawatt project in Ohio called Turning Point Solar.  That project is still in the development stage.  This week, we look at Blue Wing.

The Blue Wing solar farm near San Antonio, Texas is operational and producing 16.6 megawatts of DC power (14.4 megawatts AC).  It’s the largest solar photovoltaic (PV) facility in Texas and the third largest PV farm in the U.S.  The amount of generation from the facility is approximately 25,000 megawatt-hours.

The installation includes a 500-kilowatt demonstration facility where an assortment of thin film and crystalline silicon PV modules as well as a concentrating PV unit have been installed for research and comparison purposes.  The project developer did not divulge the CPV vendor although we’re looking into that.

Juwi solar, with U.S. operations based out of Boulder, Colorado developed, designed and built Blue Wing.  The project is owned by Duke Energy and the power is purchased by CPS Energy under a 30-year power purchase agreement. To-date juwi solar had developed and built three of the largest solar power plants in the nation; the 15 megawatt Jacksonville Solar in Florida, the 12 megawatt Wyandot Solar in Ohio, and the 16 megawatt Blue Wing.

Here are some of the vital statistics of the Blue Wing project:

  • Quantity of First Solar modules: 223,900 (includes demo; 214,500 First Solar)
  • Quantity of Racks: 4,444 on about 12,000 rack posts
  • Quantity of SMA inverters: 22
  • Road Length: 6,684 feet
  • Fence Length: 12,450 feet
  • Power: 16,087,500 watts DC plus 618,720 watts DC for the demo
  • Acreage: 113 (project), 140 (site)
  • Array Tilt: 20 degrees, Array Azimuth 25 degrees west of south
  • 200 ground rods and over 100,000 ft. of ground cable.
  • 24 lightning poles distributed around the site to collect lightning strikes
  • Construction began in March 2010
  • During construction peak there were 115 workers at the site.   More than 100,000 labor hours of construction work was generated.
  • Approximately $2,000,000 in local purchases were made during construction.

I interviewed juwi solar Managing Director Michael Martin.  In Martin’s words, Blue Wing is “truly a utility-scale project” in that it has a “leading (commercial business unit of an) investor owned utility in DEGS and leading utility power purchaser in CPS Energy”  “What we’re seeing this year,” said Martin is “250 megawatts to 400 megawatts of true utility-scale solar in the U.S.”  He added, “This amount of megawatts  is still insignificant in the global picture but it’s a great sign as a start.”

Martin said that there are “A lot of [project] announcements but fewer announcements of construction — some announced projects are not going forward.”  He added that “juwi, First Solar and SunPower are the only folks to have built operational utility-scale solar projects.”  (SunPower has DeSoto, Nellis AFB, Space Coast and Exelon at 27 MW, 14 MW, 11.5 MW and 10 MW respectively while First Solar has Blythe and El Dorado at 24 MW and 10 MW respectively.)

Martin said that one of the reasons that First Solar panels are being used at this site is because the temperature coefficient and the ability to capture diffuse light of the cadmium telluride-based panels is better suited to the Texas heat and sun.  Martin added that those factors, coupled with First Solar’s cost-effectiveness allowed the “power purchase price to be lower and the banks to be happier.”

On this Blue Wing site — the environmental impact report was not a problem nor were there any archeological issues. This is not an issue to take lightly as tortoises, Indian burial grounds and foxes have slowed or halted progress in many solar projects

In some solar projects, the project developer and engineering, procurement and construction contractor (EPC) are different parties.  In juwi’s case — it’s typical for them to be the developer, the EPC, as well as perform the ongoing O&M (operations and maintenance).  Juwi’s business is to build projects cost effectively — and ultimately the owners and utilities benefit from “not having too many hands in the pot,” according to Martin.

Power from solar farms is not quite at grid parity or at the price of a kilowatt-hour from coal.  But in Martin’s view, “We’re starting to see less than 15 cents per kilowatt-hour” going forward in 2011.  Given the improved quality of financing for these projects and the declining price of solar modules — that levelized cost of energy (LCOE) should only improve.

Blue wing 1

Blue Wing 2

[From GreenTech Media]

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Posts

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  • "“As the Texas population continues to grow, so will our energy consumption needs. We must have tools that empower the consumer to choose their products and monitor their usage wisely. TexasIsHot.org is a great resource, which is exactly what Texans need in today’s deregulated market.”" - State Rep. Burt Solomons (R-Carrollton), Chairman of House State Affairs Committee
  • "In order to meet our goals, we need programs like the TexasIsHot campaign to help change the way people think about energy." - State Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), Chairman of Senate Natural Resources Committee
  • "Texas leads the nation in wind power because it makes money, not because it makes us feel better. Texans are a practical, penny-wise people who I think will be happy to learn how to save a few bucks on their power bills with the common-sense advice at TexasIsHot.org."-Jerry Patterson, Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office
  • "If every Texas household adopted just a few of the dozens of energy efficiency strategies referenced on TexasIsHot.org, our air would be cleaner, our limited supply of natural resources would be better protected, and our wallets would be heavier..." Kip Averitt (R-Waco), Former State Senator and Chairman of Senate Committee on Natural Resources
  • ”The TexasIsHot campaign targets an important piece of the clean energy effort -- educating Texans on the way we use electricity and quantifying the financial and environmental costs associated with our use. By just reducing the amount of electricity we use and waste, TexasIsHot.org can show people how to save money..." State Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin)
  • "Fluctuating energy costs are really hurting Texas families and businesses, but by just making a few easy changes, Texans can cut down on energy waste. TexasIsHot.org is a tremendous resource which arms consumers with the information they need to save themselves money by becoming more energy efficient, and help our environment." State Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
  • "Texas is the third fastest growing state in the nation with a net growth of 1,000 people each and every day. This brings many challenges including providing clean and affordable electricity. That is why I'm excited about TexasIsHot.org. This website is an instructional resource that will help Texans save on their energy bills at home and in the workplace..." State Rep. Phil King (R-Weatherford)
  • "Now, more than ever, Texans need to work together to conserve energy and to make more efficient use of the energy we consume. The TexasIsHot.org website is an extraordinary resource for people who want to save money and help conserve our precious natural resources..." State Rep. Rafael Anchía (D-Dallas)
  • "By partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition we can extend our effort’s reach, leverage our resources, and ensure that Austin’s energy grid continues to be a test-bed for technologies, products, and services that will transform our state’s energy system." Brewster McCracken, Executive Director, Pecan Street Project
  • "The City of Houston is working harder than ever to make Houston green and energy efficient, but we need the help of every citizen. I would encourage everyone to take a moment to explore the TexasIsHot website to learn what we can all do to make Houston, and the rest of Texas, the green and energy efficient example for the rest of the nation." Mayor Annise Parker, Houston
  • "Energy efficiency is one of our top priorities. Partnering with the TexasIsHot Coalition will help us educate citizens and local businesses about energy-efficient practices in order to meet our goal of reducing residential and commercial electric use." Gavin Dillingham, Chief of Sustainable Growth – General Services Department, for the City of Houston
  • "We are excited about the new partnership that the City of Corpus Christi has entered into with the TexasIsHot Coalition. TexasIsHot.org provides a platform to educate policy makers, city employees and citizens on how to save money and help the environment by conserving energy..." Mayor Joe Adame, Corpus Christi
  • "I am excited that the City of Corpus Christi has joined the TexasIsHot Coalition and look forward to working with them to help Texans become smarter energy users. Energy efficiency is by far the best way for people to reduce their bills and help the environment, but we need education and outreach to make this happen." State Rep. Solomon Ortiz, Jr (D-Corpus Christi)
  • "Because of its fast growth and hot summers, Texas has to get smarter about energy conservation. I applaud the efforts of Corpus Christi and TexasIsHot to help businesses and residents reap the benefits of increased efficiency." Senator Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa (D-McAllen)
  • "Energy efficiency is the cleanest, quickest and cheapest way to get smart about energy use, saving both money and the environment. I applaud the TexasIsHot Coalition in their effort to educate Texans about the benefits of energy efficiency..." Luke Metzger, Director, Environment Texas
Get Connected

Enter your email address and receive tips and helpful info from Texasishot.org