installation of a state-of-the art solar electric project at Gallup
High School was cause for celebration Feb. 24.
"We're really looking at alternative
energy sources," said Bruce Tempest, president of the Gallup-McKinley
County Schools Board of Education.
Besides the potential savings in fuel
costs, the project is an opportunity to teach students at the high
school and at the University of New Mexico-Gallup about alternative
energy systems, Tempest said.
One of only 15 districts statewide to
receive an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant, GMCS collaborated
with the state of New Mexico and Gallup Solar, a local nonprofit
advocacy group, to do the project.
The 50-kilowatt photovoltaic system was
constructed by Sacred Power Corp., a Native-owned company based
in Albuquerque, using technology developed by Emcore Corp., which
manufactures solar power equipment at its Albuquerque plant.
Yates, Emcore business development manager, said the Gallup project
would offset a portion of the high school's energy usage as well
as being an educational tool.
Emcore makes solar equipment for use in
satellites, and Yates said the Gallup project employs concentrated
photovoltaics, a more advanced technology than that found in regular
silicon-solar panels. The Emcore photovoltaics use a lens to concentrate
the sun over a 1,000 times on top of a one-square-centimeter solar
"The solar cell we use is called
a triple-junction solar cell," he explained. "It's actually
three semiconductors laying on top of each other. These solar cells
were originally designed for space applications."
The solar panel modules use a tracking
system to follow the sun throughout the day. Each panel has several
boxes with magnifying lenses. At the bottom of each box is a solar
cell concentrating light on a smaller solar cell.