In October, solar power showed its large-scale capabilities with the announcement of two projected record-setting installations; in Mountain View, California, the ubiquitous search engine company, Google, announced its intent to build what will be the largest solar powered system ever installed at a single corporate campus. The 1.6 MW system will involve 9,212 solar panels. Most will be placed on the rooftops of various Googleplex buildings, and others will provide shaded parking as part of newly constructed solar panel support structures on existing Google parking lots.

The system will be designed and installed by San Rafael, Calif.-based solar energy provider, EI Solutions. It will provide more than 2.6 million kWh per year, with an annual savings to the company of nearly $400,000.

  In Texas, the Army’s Fort Bliss has announced another potentially record-breaking project. The site near El Paso will be home to what may eventually become the largest solar energy installation in the world. The system, to be designed by the Naval Postgraduate School and its partners, will be built in four phases over the next three years. Phase One, which will be completed in six months, will generate 1.5 megawatts of solar energy. Phase Two, beginning in fall 2007, will generate 20 megawatts of power, dwarfing a 12-megawatt project in Germany, which is currently the world’s largest. Distancing itself even further from the competition, Phase Three will begin in fall 2008, generating another 40 megawatts. Finally, completely cementing itself as the world’s largest facility, Phase Four will begin in fall 2009 and will generate one gigawatt of solar power.

The project will incorporate three new technologies, which are currently being tested at Fort Bliss. Combined, they are designed to increase efficiency, lower the cost and extend the hours of solar power generation.    EC