June 27, 2013

KILLEEN, Texas.  John Sharp, Chancellor of The Texas A&M University System, and Dr. Marc Nigliazzo, President of Texas A&M University-Central Texas, today announced a collaborative partnership with the Center for Solar Energy to evaluate, develop and test practical and emergent technologies relating to renewable energy and photovoltaic solar technologies. 

“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,” Sharp said. 

A&M-Central Texas is developing the project with PPA Partners, a leading solar energy company headquartered in Morgan Hill, California.  PPA Partners has a similar venture at Arizona Western College in Yuma.  The new Center for Solar Energy in collaboration with A&M-Central Texas will be an incubation program to develop early-stage technologies in solar power with the goal of attracting the interest of capital investors and bringing those technologies to the marketplace.

When completed, the nearly $600 million center will cover up to 800 acres in Bell County and house an advanced renewable power generation system that will power the A&M-Central Texas campus.    

The system will host the largest assortment of photovoltaic technologies in the world and serve as a true test site for leading-edge technologies, leading to thousands of clean energy jobs in Central Texas.  As part of the project, A&M-Central Texas will be adding new curriculum offerings to encourage research and education in renewable energy, while enhancing business and marketing programs. The college will expand those offerings as the field grows.  

“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,” said Nigliazzo.

The Center will serve as an incubator to bring emerging technologies from concept to market within two years through a well-rounded program that includes training, engineering, demonstration and manufacturing support.  Participants will enter the program through an awarded scholarship, venture capital partner or advisory board recommendation.   

“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. Developers of promising early stage technologies will thus be attracted to Central Texas for training, support, and validation,” said Bruce Mercy, executive director of the Center for Solar Energy.

About the A&M System The A&M System is one of the largest systems of higher education in the nation, with a budget of $3.3 billion. Through a statewide network of 11 universities, nine state agencies and a comprehensive health science center, the A&M System educates more than 120,000 students and makes more than 22 million additional educational contacts through service and outreach programs each year. Externally funded research expenditures exceed $780 million and help drive the state’s economy.

Texas A&M System
Steven B. Moore
(979) 458-6023