LAS VEGAS -- With more than 20,000 panels, one of the largest rooftop
solar arrays in the U.S. is about to be commissioned on top of the Mandalay
Bay Convention center in Las Vegas, Nevada. A 6.4-MW solar array, which uses
SMA inverters and panels from Hanwha Q CELLS and JA Solar, covers the 20
acres of roofs on the convention center and its neighboring buildings.
NRG developed the project and sells the power back to Mandalay for a cost
that is “about the same” as the cost that the resort was already
paying for electricity, according to Cindy Ortega, MGM Resorts chief sustainability
officer. Ortega was among several guests, including U.S. Secretary of Energy
Ernest Moniz, who visited the array on Wednesday, the day before the ribbon
cutting for the new project. Ortega said that the solar panels will generate
enough energy to meet about 20 percent of the electricity needs of the resort
and indicated that there are plans to expand it in the future. In addition
to meeting the energy needs of the resort, it will also serve as a shining
example to guest who visit Mandalay Bay and can look out their windows and
see the solar on the convention center roof.
U.S. Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz was in town to give a speech at the
Wednesday General Session at Solar Power International. He stopped by the
rooftop array on his way out of town and spoke to journalists from the roof. “The
more we get solar out there, the more the costs get driven lower and lower,” he
said. He touted the first five large utility solar projects that the U.S.
Department of Energy helped kickstart as examples of the success of its loan
program. “We don’t have to help anymore,” he explained, “there
are 17 projects now with complete private financing,” he said.
CSP plants are not as far along as PV projects, said Moniz, adding that
the DOE has helped fund some larger projects that are just coming online,
such as Ivanpah, or are still under development, such as The 110-MW Crescent
Dunes CSP project near Tonepah. “We are supporting the first ones getting
out there and we hope that after that experience, costs [will] come down
and the private sector will advance those both in the United States and in
places like North Africa, which has very good conditions for solar thermal,” he
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