Solar power proved to be the ideal energy solution for Naval Base Coronado. The photovoltaic system combines the environmental benefits of solar with the ability to provide a source of onsite power that serves to reduce our vulnerability to disruptions of the utility power grid.”

– Wade Wilhelm, Lieutenant Commander , Navy Region Southwest Utilities Program Manager


Navy Region Southwest is the Naval shore installation management headquarters for the Southwest region. It provides coordination of base support functions for Naval operating forces throughout the region. The command also serves as the regional coordinator for the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet.


In response to California’s energy crisis and the March 2001 Department of Defense call for demand reduction projects, Navy Region Southwest sought ways to reduce energy use in the San Diego metro area. As the largest energy user in the San Diego service territory, Navy Region Southwest evaluated renewable energy in order to reduce peak demand loads and daily energy consumption of on-shore facilities. Initiatives selected were based on technical innovation, cost-effectiveness, return on investment and potential benefits to other Naval activities.


After evaluating multiple renewable energy alternatives, the Navy chose to install an onsite solar electric generation system at its Naval Base in Coronado. This system will reduce the need for expensive electricity purchases from the utility grid during peak energy demand periods while providing the Navy base with reliable, high quality power with minimal environmental impact.

The 924 kW photovoltaic system was designed and installed by SunPower as part of an energy savings turnkey system with energy performance guarantees. This project was partially funded by the Federal government, and managed by Noresco, an energy service provider. The Naval Base Coronado system is one of the largest federal solar electric installation in the nation.

Parking Structure Array Description

The system is a unique solar electric carport which makes innovative use of an unused asset—an existing parking lot. The solar electric carport generates power for the Navy base while providing shade and protection for over 400 vehicles, specifically for long-term parking for Navy personnel. The solar installation is comprised of two contiguous solar arrays, covering an impressive half-mile parking structure.

SunPower’s 750kW carport generates power for the Navy base, and is made up of 3,078 photovoltaic panels, which delivers electricity directly to the Navy’s electrical grid. The carport system features a fully engineered mechanical mounting system to securely fasten the solar electric panels, providing strength as well structural integrity. Indeed , the system is designed to meet 80 mile per hour wind conditions.

Project Overview

Location:    San Diego, California
Completed:    September 2002
System Type:    SunPower® Parking System
System Size:    750 kW
System Peak Capacity:    924 kW
PV Surface Area:    81,470 square feet
Solar Electric Tiles:    3,078


The electricity generated by the photovoltaic system is a reliable, high quality powersupply. In addition to providing shade for parked cars, the solar system generatesenough electricity during the day to power over 935 homes. The solar electric systemwill considerably contribute to summer electricity load, and will save over $228,000in annual operating costs.

By avoiding the purchase of fossil fuel generated electricity, Naval Base Coronado’ssolar electric system spares the environment from thousands of tons of harmfulemissions, such as nitrogen oxides, sulfur dioxide and carbon dioxide, which aremajor contributors to smog, rain and global warming. It is estimated that over the25-year lifetime of the photovoltaic system, the solar generated electricity will reduceemissions of nitrogen oxides by 11,660 lbs., sulfur dioxide by 10,480 lbs., andcarbon dioxide by 7,430 tons. These emission reductions are equivalent to notdriving 18,583,000 miles or removing 1,480 cars from California’s roadways.