The Las Vegas Strip has been referred to as an energy consumption nightmare. Just one look at the place provides evidence for the claim: an endless sea of lights, glitz and glamour and cavernous casinos running huge banks of air conditioning equipment in the desert heat. Even with Boulder Dam a hop, skip and jump away, Vegas is struggling to meet its electricity needs.
Some local businesses are trying to improve the situation. The Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino has expanded the solar array on the roof of its convention center to create the largest rooftop solar installation in the United States. Containing more than 26,000 solar panels, the installation can produce 8.3 megawatts of power. At full production, the system supplies 25% of the power demand of the entire Mandalay Resort complex. This is equivalent to the average annual usage of over 1,300 homes. It also will displace more than 8,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually.
The project is a partnership between MGM Resorts International, which owns the Mandalay, and NRG, which is the largest integrated power company in the U.S. The solar installation is actually owned and operated by NRG who will be selling the power generated to the Mandalay Resort under a 25-year Power Purchase Agreement.
In a place with abundant sunshine like Las Vegas, generating electricity from solar power makes abundant sense from pretty much any perspective. Apart from increasingly favorable economics, it is an opportunity to make use of clean, plentiful electrical power and make some progress in reducing at least one of the sins found in Sin City.
Photo, posted November 11, 2009, courtesy of Hakan Dahlstrom via Flickr.