$600 Million Solar Energy Research Center To Be Built in Central Texas

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KILLEEN (June 27, 2013)— A $600 million solar energy research center will be built in Bell County in a collaborative project with Texas A&M University-Central Texas in Killeen that could bring thousands of new jobs to the area, school officials announced Thursday.

The 800-acre center will house an advanced renewable generation system that will power the A&M-Central Texas campus, using the “largest assortment of photovoltaic technologies in the world,” and will lead “to thousands of clean energy jobs in Central Texas,” the school said in a press release Thursday.

“The collaboration between A&M-Central Texas and the Center for Solar Energy is truly a market-changing partnership and will make A&M-Central Texas the premier destination for the study and advancement of solar energy,” Texas A&M System Chancellor John Sharp said.

The center will evaluate, develop and test renewable energy and photovoltaic solar technologies with the goal of attracting investors and taking the technologies to market.

“Technological innovation is the cornerstone of the center’s programs, and it will use the 50MW solar field to create a baseline of data for grading new and existing technologies, while also providing a basis for research,” said Bruce Mercy, executive director of the Center for Solar Energy.

“Developers of promising early stage technologies will thus be attracted to Central Texas for training, support, and validation,”

The university will create new course offerings to encourage research in renewable energy, the school said.

“The Center for Solar Energy will not only accelerate research and curriculum development at A&M-Central Texas, it will extend collaborative opportunities across an educational spectrum to universities and agencies within the Texas A&M University System, as well as to our regional community college partners and school districts,” university President Dr. Marc Nigliazzo said.

The university is working with Morgan Hill, Calif.-based PPA Partners, a solar energy company that has a similar partnership with Arizona Western College in Yuma, Ariz.