REC, the largest European supplier of solar panels globally, has provided the solar panels to the new Sandy Grove Middle School in Lumber Bridge, N.C., which opened its doors to students on August 17, 2013. As a net energy-positive building, the school combines REC solar panels for generating solar power with a geothermal system and energy-efficient building design, making it one of an elite class of buildings that generate more energy than they consume.
The 2,310 high performing REC 250 Peak Energy solar panels on the school rooftop will produce 751 MWh of solar energy annually. This is 42 percent more than the school will need. The school’s total energy reduction and generation measures have earned the project LEED Platinum rating, and will save close to $16 million in energy costs over the next four decades.
The solar PV system was designed and built by PowerSecure, a nationwide solar EPC company based in North Carolina with over 1,500 MW of distributed power-generating capacity installed throughout the USA. Thanks to the established relationship with REC on other solar installations – including a 700-kW rooftop system in Baltimore and a 1-MW project now underway in North Carolina – REC was the natural choice to power this cutting-edge school project. REC in the USA also has a high percentage of US-made content, which was important to the Hoke County School System.
The Sandy Grove Middle School is indeed a cutting-edge project that is providing leadership in its community and beyond. It is the first net-positive energy school in the Southeast, and one of just a few in the USA, and also the first public-private partnership financed school in North Carolina. The new LEED Platinum school is leased to the Hoke County School System by project owner firstfloor, a development company with a vision to deliver the next generation of net-positive energy and high efficiency school buildings into communities around the country. For firstfloor, solar energy is a critical component of their vision for net positive energy schools. By combining advanced energy efficiency measures and geothermal energy with solar power generation, the building was delivered at a lower cost than would normally be the case with equivalent facilities – while maintaining high quality standards.
Commenting on REC’s role in the project, Arndt Lutz, Senior Vice President, REC says: “We were delighted to be involved in such a groundbreaking project. It demonstrates how solar power and REC solar panels can deliver the long-term value and reliability that are so vital to gain and build confidence in renewable energy projects such as this.”
The new school is set to serve as a model for future school buildings across the region and elsewhere. This project shows the way forward for building net-positive energy schools that create a win-win situation for project investors, school authorities and the environment.
— Solar Builder magazine