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SunPower has began construction of a new 15MW solar project at Nellis Air Force Base (AFB) in Nevada, US, in an effort to enable the base to run exclusively on renewable energy during daylight hours.

The $50m project is called the Nellis Solar Array II. It is being built over a closed landfill, and new infrastructure will be owned by NV Energy.

USAF 99th Air Base Wing commander colonel Richard Boutwell said: "As the second major solar energy project here, this venture is especially gratifying.

"It is set to increase our energy independence and strengthen our system reliability."

"This project represents a creative approach to help Nellis Air Force Base meet its energy needs."

NV Energy Customer Operations senior vice-president Pat Egan said: "This project represents a creative approach to help Nellis Air Force Base meet its energy needs, and we are very pleased that this new substation and related electrical connections will enable us to provide even more reliable service to such an important Las Vegas-area customer."

The plant will be equipped with SunPower Oasis Power Plant technology that features efficient panels, which in turn will be mounted on single-axis trackers that align them with the movement of the sun throughout the day.

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The new project is scheduled to be electrically connected to a new nearby NV Energy substation that will be built on Nellis AFB, and also will serve to add an additional layer of redundancy to the base’s energy supply system.

The project will create nearly 150 jobs during construction, and is anticipated to be completed by the end of this year.

SunPower has already designed and constructed the first 13.2MW solar plant at the base, which has been operational since 2007.

The power plant contains 70,000 solar panels, and annually generates more than 25GW-hours of electricity and supplies more than 25% of the power used at the base.

Image: The first 14MW solar power plant at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, US. Photo: courtesy of the US Air Force.