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SpaceX Is Expanding The Solar Farm At Its Starbase In Texas

by Victoria Marian Belmis / May 05, 2022 11:02 AM EDT
Elon Musk

SpaceX is expanding its on-site solar farm at the Starbase located at Boca Chica, Texas, according to documents obtained by CNBC from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS).

The FWS documents, defined as a draft biological conference and opinion (BCO), detailed that SpaceX is increasing the size of its solar farm by 1.7 acres, or by about 30%, making the solar array a total of 7.1 acres. On-site clearing and leveling for construction have already begun.

READ: Amazon's Project Kuiper Might Take On SpaceX In The Satellite Internet Business

Solar farms are composed of a large array of photovoltaic (PV) solar panels that directly absorb energy from the sun, convert it into electricity, and send the same electricity to the power grid for distribution and consumption.

The space company already uses solar panels and big batteries to provide electricity for day-to-day operations at the South Texas vertical launch facility. It correspondingly operates a natural gas power plant in Boca Chica.

Near the end of 2021, the solar farm covered 5.4 acres and supplied approximately 1 MW of power, with a 3.87 MW-hour battery for energy storage according to the BCO. One megawatt-hour can toast about 89,000 slices of bread or power two 60W bulbs non-stop for a year.

The ongoing expansion is expected to take place over two years and would add 750 kilowatts of power for a total of 1.6 MWs of energy, plus an additional battery system enabling up to 8 MW-hours of storage, the documents said.

READ: Elon Musk Sells $8.4 Billion In Tesla Stock Ahead Of Twitter Takeover

They also indicate that SpaceX is using panels made by Chinese manufacturers Trina Solar at the launch facility instead of the photovoltaics produced by Tesla, the electric vehicle and energy company also headed by Elon Musk. However, the batteries used for the solar farm are Tesla's Power Pack energy storage systems which are geared for businesses and utilities. 

As CNBC had previously reported, SpaceX shares both a CEO and board members past and present with Tesla. Last 2020, SpaceX bought around $4 million worth of energy systems, parts, components, and services from Tesla, including labor.

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