The World's #1 Renewable Energy Network for News, Information, and Companies.

Central Texas Dreams Big for Solar Energy Center

Texas A&M University-Central Texas (TAMU-CT) is opening the doors for what it claims will be the planet's biggest solar energy test facility, a 50-MW undertaking spanning both commercial demonstrations and testing, with an incubator program to shepherd newer technologies. The system also will produce all of the university's power requirements (achieved via net metering), housing enough renewable energy to power the entire TAMU-CT's campus.

Projected to cost nearly $600 million, the Center for Solar Energy will cover up to 800 acres in Bell County, TX, adjacent to the campus and neighboring Fort Hood. PPA Partners is developing the project, with "one of the 10 largest domestic electric contractors and renewable EPCs" handling installation of all the PV systems. The project will be built out in stages, or "blocks," according to Bruce Mercy, executive director of the CSE. One financier (choosing to remain anonymous for the next 90 days or so) has already committed $25 million to build out the first block; another has been tentatively lined up and will be announced a few weeks after that, he said. Groundbreaking will begin shortly thereafter. 

If any of this sounds familiar, perhaps it's because PPA Partners and its CEO Bruce Mercy were behind a similar project at Arizona Western College (AWC), which compares five different solar technologies totaling 5 MW. There's another connection: Marc Nigliazzo, president of TAMU-CT, was president at AWC when it devised and built out its evaluation project.

The plan for this solar center is far bigger in scale, though. Besides the 50-MW solar tech evaluation, the CSE also will be home to a National Photovolatic Innovation Competition and a Next-Generation Solar Technology Business Incubator, to identify and support early-stage solar technologies at or near the prototyping stage, with the goal to bring the best of them from concept to market within two years. Participants, selected by a combination of faculty and industry leaders, will receive a 30-KW site for their systems and support (e.g. monitoring equipment, staff & resources). Over 12 months they'll be tested, graded, validated, and rated against the baseline of the entire 50-MW multi-technology site. Best-performing technologies will advance to a different demo site where data consisting of product grading, rating, etc. will be made public. TAMU-CT will provide support for business plan development, financial analysis, and installation analysis including costs, balance-of-system design, and performance validations such as UL testing. They'll also help connect winners to VC and manufacturing interests. The University and CSE will "retain a minimal percentage" of IP rights licenses from any technology that goes through the program. 

And the school has even bigger dreams for the center beyond the technology — accelerate research and curriculum development within various disciplines from tech to business development, extend collaboration to various partners within the TAMU system (a network of 11 universities and nine state agencies), and regional community college partners and school districts, said Nigliazzo. 

"My challenge to Bruce in Arizona was to reduce the cost of electricity, strengthen [AWC's] programs and the economy of the region [that was] suffering greatly from the recession," Nigliazzo told the audience assembled at TAMU-CT. "The success of that is the basis of what is being announced today in Texas."

Lead image: Texas flag via Shutterstock

RELATED ARTICLES

Intersolar Europe 2015: Spirits Up, Stats Down

William P. Hirshman, Contributor Intersolar Europe, billed at the world’s leading exhibition for the solar industry, is indeed big. But Intersolar Europe 2015, one of five Intersolar-branded gatherings around the globe each year, was not as large as the an...
US Capitol

Republicans and Democrats Back Bill to Level the Playing Field for Renewable Energy

Vince Font, Contributing Editor U.S. Senators Chris Coons and Jerry Moran are leading a bipartisan effort to reintroduce tax code legislation aimed at leveling the playing field for renewable energy investment. The Master Limited Partnerships Parity Act w...
Solar thermal desalination

Solar Thermal Desalination Now Underway in Water-hungry California

Susan Kraemer, Correspondent Regional droughts are being exacerbated by climate change, which is mostly caused by what is tasked with bailing them out — fossil fuels. Israel, Australia, and now southern California have all turned to expensive energy-gu...
Memo pad on table

IRS Issues Solar Tax Equity Memo Stating the Obvious

David Burton and Richard Page, Akin Gump On Friday, the IRS issued a heavily redacted Chief Counsel Advice (“CCA”) memorandum, that addresses the intersection of solar investment tax credit partnership flip transactions and the wind production tax credit part...
Jim is Contributing Editor for RenewableEnergyWorld.com, covering the solar and wind beats. He previously was associate editor for Solid State Technology and Photovoltaics World, and has covered semiconductor manufacturing and related industries, ...

CURRENT MAGAZINE ISSUE

Volume 18, Issue 3
1505REW_C11

STAY CONNECTED

To register for our free
e-Newsletters, subscribe today:

SOCIAL ACTIVITY

Tweet the Editors! @megcichon @jennrunyon

FEATURED PARTNERS



EVENTS

SAP for Utilities

The SAP for Utilities conference is the most comprehensive SAP for Utili...

Training: Preparing for Rule 21 - SPI 2015

What: Rule 21 Training When: September 16th @ 4:30-5:30pm Wher...

Training: NEC 2014, AFDI, & Rapid Shutdown - SPI 2015

What: NEC 2014, AFDI, & Rapid Shutdown When: September 15t...

COMPANY BLOGS

More Middle-Class Massachusetts Residents Are Going Solar

Massachusetts is known for the Pilgrims, Boston cream pie and its excell...

Harnessing Emotions

Think about how you interact with your prospects. Are you going from the...

What Is a Solar PPA And How Does It Work?

When talking about solar financing, the solar power purchase agreement (...

NEWSLETTERS

Renewable Energy: Subscribe Now

Solar Energy: Subscribe Now

Wind Energy: Subscribe Now

Geothermal Energy: Subscribe Now

Bioenergy: Subscribe Now  

 

FEATURED PARTNERS