SRP, SunPower dedicate solar power system at Polytechnic campus

April 5, 2013

Salt River Project (SRP) and SunPower Corp. have dedicated a one-megawatt solar photovoltaic power plant at the ASU Polytechnic campus. The facility is the first commercial deployment of the SunPower C7 Tracker (C7 Tracker) technology, a solar photovoltaic tracking system that concentrates the sun’s power seven times to achieve one of the lowest levelized costs of electricity for solar power plants available today.

SunPower engineered and constructed the plant on the southeast corner of the ASU Polytechnic campus, and is currently operating and maintaining it. The plant is expected to produce an amount of energy equal to that needed to serve about 225 SRP customers’ homes and requires minimal water use. According to estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the system will offset the production of 1,277 tons of carbon dioxide emissions annually, the equivalent of removing 241 passenger vehicles from Arizona roads each year. Download Full Image

Under a purchase-power agreement, SRP is buying the entire output of the solar plant from SunPower. ASU is purchasing the power from SRP for use at its Polytechnic campus under a separate agreement.

“At SRP we continue to look for new and innovative ways to diversify our portfolio with sustainable sources of energy that best serve our customers in a cost-effective way,” said John Sullivan, SRP’s chief resource executive.  “SunPower’s C7 Tracker system is a promising technology that we expect to provide these benefits.”

The C7 Tracker combines single-axis tracking technology with rows of parabolic mirrors, reflecting light onto high performing SunPower Maxeon® solar cells, with an efficiency of 22.8 percent. The 1-megawatt C7 Tracker power plant at ASU will require only 172 kilowatts of SunPower solar cells when corresponding to a geometric concentration ratio of seven to one and a power-based ratio of six to one.

“The SunPower C7 Tracker leverages SunPower’s depth of experience developing reliable tracking systems and delivers bankable technology with guaranteed performance,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, regions. “We applaud our partners on this project in selecting this advanced technology platform that will deliver cost-effective renewable energy in Arizona for the long-term.”

“This dynamic project with SunPower enables ASU to move closer to our 2015, 25-megawatt solar energy-generating goal, embrace innovative technologies, and facilitate possible education opportunities for our students,” said David Brixen, ASU’s associate vice president of Facilities Development and Management.

The ASU solar plant will be the third commercial-scale solar facility in the Valley of the Sun to provide energy for SRP, including the 20-megawatt Copper Crossing facility in Pinal County that was also designed and built by SunPower. More than 100 schools in 11 Valley school districts are tapping into the power of the sun from that plant to offset a portion of their electric needs through SRP’s Community Solar program.

Media contacts:
Patty Garcia-Likens
, 602.236.2588, SRP media relations
Ingrid Ekstrom
, 510.260.8368, SunPower Corp.

Wendy Craft

Marketing and communications manager, Business and Finance Communications Group


Obama's BRAIN Initiative presents significant opportunities for ASU

April 5, 2013

President Barack Obama proposed a new initiative designed to revolutionize our understanding of the human brain in a speech at the White House on Tuesday. The BRAIN (Brain Research through Advancing Innovative Neurotechnologies) Initiative aims to help researchers find new ways to treat, cure and even prevent brain disorders, such as Alzheimer’s disease, epilepsy and traumatic brain injury.

The initiative is launching with approximately $100 million in funding for research supported by the National Institutes of Health ($40 million), the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency ($30 million) and the National Science Foundation ($20 million) in the President’s Fiscal Year 2014 budget.  President Obama at the BRAIN Initiative event Download Full Image

Private sector partners, including the Allen Institute for Brain Science, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Kavli Foundation and Salk Institute for Biological Studies, have also made important commitments to further the BRAIN Initiative, totaling more than $125 million in investments.

The BRAIN Initiative supports the vision that Obama outlined in his 2013 State of the Union Address, in which he stated, “If we want to make the best products, we also have to invest in the best ideas….Now is the time to reach a level of research and development not seen since the height of the Space Race.”

Sethuraman (Panch) Panchanathan, the senior vice president for Knowledge Enterprise Development at Arizona State University, joined a select group of scientists and university leaders attending the president’s speech this week. Earlier this year, Panchanathan was invited to be part of an eight-member panel to share their expertise with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) in exploring ways to improve “convergent” science – research at the intersection of the life sciences, the physical sciences and engineering.

In the OSTP report, Panchanathan emphasized the importance of interdisciplinary/transdisciplinary solution-based approaches for solving grand challenges faced by society, strong synergistic corporate partnerships, enlightened intellectual property policies and a robust culture of entrepreneurship.

The BRAIN Initiative will rely heavily on transdisciplinary research, integrating the latest science to accelerate discovery. The human brain is made up of 100 billion neurons with 100 trillion different connections. Its sheer complexity presents an enormous challenge to scientists trying to find the causes and treatments of brain disorders. A White House press release notes that breakthroughs in treating neurological and psychiatric diseases will require a new generation of tools for recording signals from brain cells in much greater numbers and at even faster speeds.

“Great promise for developing such technologies lies at the intersections of nanoscience, imaging, engineering, informatics, and other rapidly emerging fields of science and engineering,” the release states.

A group of scientists from Arizona’s three state universities, major medical centers and the biotechnology industry are now working to leverage the state’s pool of expertise in brain research.

“The BRAIN initiative is a fantastic opportunity to bring basic, translational and applied research that is inherently transdisciplinary in nature together to achieve societal and economic impact. This offers numerous opportunities for ASU faculty and students, and for Arizona as a whole,” says Panchanathan.

He adds: “In addition to work at ASU in the areas of neuroscience and neurorehabilitation, it also presents new potential to collaborate with partners like Banner Health and Banner’s Alzheimer’s Institute, Barrow Neurological Institute, University of Arizona, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, TGen and Mayo Clinic.”

More information:
Fact sheet:
President's remarks:

Director, Knowledge Enterprise Development