At Edwards Air Force Base, the mission and the environment go hand-in-hand. The unique physical environment is what makes the desert such an ideal place for flight test activities. Helping the flight testers maintain access to air, land and water for testing and other operations, while not upsetting the delicate balance of the desert ecosystem, is the mission of the Environmental Management (EM) Directorate. Four main areas of environmental service and support are provided through the EM offices: cleanup, conservation, pollution prevention, and compliance. Personnel from all four areas actively work with regulatory agencies and the community in a spirit of cooperation and commitment to ensure the center accomplishes its mission without harming the environment.
The three solar ground mounted arrays at Edwards Air Force Base are each about 1.13 MW in size. Borrego Solar’s Project Development team identified the three locations as ideal for solar, because of the electricity substations located at each site. Borrego’s designers worked closely with the 95th Air Base Wing, 412th Test Wing, and Air Force Flight Test Center to ensure the project would not interfere with flight test missions. All three arrays were installed using Array Technologies single-axis ground mounted trackers that follow the trajectory of the sun throughout the day to maximize efficiency and energy production. In some cases Borrego Solar had to construct and install power lines in order to connect the completed installations directly to the base’s power grid.
Edwards Air Force Base’s power requirement is approximately 30 megawatts at its peak. That means the three solar power installations combined will replace approximately 10% of the energy needed on base. The solar energy systems were financed by Borrego Solar’s in-house power purchase agreement (PPA). Under the terms of the PPA, a third party (Borrego Solar), builds, designs, procures, and constructs the solar power installations, and in return, Edwards agrees to purchase the clean renewable energy produced at a negotiated competitive rate.