The Nellis Solar Power Plant is the largest solar photovoltaic system in North America, and is located within Nellis Air Force Base in Clark County, Nevada, on the northeast side of Las Vegas. The Nellis solar energy system will generate in excess of 25 million kilowatt-hours (kW·h) of electricity annually and supply more than 25 percent of the power used at the base. The system was inaugurated in a ceremony on December 17, 2007, with Nevada Governor Jim Gibbons activating full operation of the 14 megawatt (MW) array.
Occupying 140 acres (0.57 km2) of land leased from the Air Force at the western edge of the base, this ground-mounted solar system employs an advanced sun tracking system, designed and deployed by PowerLight subsidiary of SunPower. The system contains approximately 70,000 solar panels, and the peak power generation capacity of the plant is approximately 14 MW. This means the ratio of average to peak output, or capacity factor, of this plant is around 20%.
The energy generated will support more than 12,000 military and civilians at Nellis who are responsible for Air Force advanced combat training, tactics development and operational testing. Construction began on April 23, 2007, and operation of the first 5 MW began on October 12.