The United States Air Force is planning on building what will be the largest solar plant on US government property. By the summer of 2011, 52,00 solar panels that will be installed on an unused tract of land at Luke Air Force Base in Arizona should be kicking out 15 megawatts of electricity – enough electricity to handle about half of what the base needs. Luke AFB is located near Phoenix, Arizona. The project will be owned by the local utility company – Arizona Public Service, which will sell the power produced back to the Air Force under a long term agreement. Officials at Luke AFB expect to save millions of dollars in energy costs over the length of the contract.
The Air Force will be using SunPower solar panels, along with SunPower’s sun tracking technology that will tilt the solar panels to follow the course of the sun throughout the day. The panels will be located on 101 acre tract of unused land on the base. They expect the project to create about 550 jobs in the local area – plans are to begin construction of the solar plant in January, with a completion date set for the summer of 2011.
This isn’t the only alternative energy move that the military is working on. The Air Force has a long term goal to reduce the amount of oil used to fuel its planes by moving toward the use of biofuel. Just this year, they’ve conducted several test flights using a mix of 50/50 jet fuel and biofuel.