Hannah Solar mounts arrays on Tiernan & Patrylo buildings through brownfield program

Brownfields are a big opportunity for the solar industry. Tiernan & Patrylo recently partnered with Hannah Solar on two roof-mount solar arrays atop their buildings in Peachtree City, Ga. The combined 755 kilowatt (kW) systems are just the latest addition to the properties, which the company recently revitalized under the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) Brownfield program.

Hannah Solar Brownfield

The Georgia EPD’s Brownfield program allows developers to purchase contaminated properties and remediate them with limited liability for preexisting contamination. In exchange for Tiernan & Patrylo fronting the costs of the cleanup, the state of Georgia assumes the liability for groundwater contamination and cleanup, as well as the contamination and cleanup of any surrounding properties. Once the buildings were completed, the company decided to take it a step further by adding solar panels.

RELATED: Mounting Challenges: Landfills, Brownfields, Water-Saturated Sites 

“As an engineer, I have always been interested in solar systems, both photovoltaic and passive solar collectors,” said President and CEO of Tiernan & Patrylo, John Tiernan. “The return on investment for us, given the tax credits and accelerated depreciation, made it a simple decision.”

The buildings house the new headquarters for global aerospace industry leader, Wencor Group, and Assa Abloy, the world’s largest door manufacturer. The installations combined generate an average of 1,057,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) annually — producing enough energy to power the equivalent of about 78 homes.

— Solar Builder magazine

Brownfield in Massachusetts receives 6-MW system, developed by Syncarpha Capital

 

Massachusetts brownfield solar array

Borrego Solar installation at 311 Emery Street in Palmer, MA. (Photo By: Greg M. Cooper / Borrego Solar)

Syncarpha Capital LLC, Borrego Solar Systems Inc., and Renewable Energy Massachusetts LLC (REM) completed a 6-MW solar array located on the former Palmer Metropolitan Airfield in Palmer, Mass.

The Palmer Airfield project is unique in that it is both the first and, at 6 MW, the largest Department of Energy Resources (DOER) qualified brownfield project under the Massachusetts SREC II solar energy incentive program. The DOER’s predecessor program, SREC I, was successful in encouraging solar development in Massachusetts through 2013, however much of it occurred on greenfields. The DOER, with key stakeholders’ input, pointed out that the program should incentivize more development of solar on landfills and brownfields. Thus the SREC II program was designed to promote the positive re-use of sites cleaned up under Massachusetts Department of Environmental Protection supervision.

The Palmer Airfield project, which was cleaned up after 75 years of airfield operations dating back to the 1920s, is a perfect example of what SREC II was designed to achieve as far as siting large-scale solar at appropriate locations around the Commonwealth.

RELATED: Mounting Challenges: Landfills, Brownfields, Water-Saturated Sites 

There are multiple entities directly benefitting from this project. The Town of Palmer, a designated Green Community, will be receiving real and personal property tax revenue of approximately $2 million over the 20 year project term. Three public entities – the Town of Leicester, the Town of Spencer, and Worcester State University, will together purchase all of the net metering credits from the energy generated by the project, which will result in millions of dollars in energy savings for these entities over the 20 year terms of the energy agreements. Finally, the land owner, JenJill LLC of Wilbraham, Mass., which purchased the site and paid for its cleanup, will benefit from the long-term ground lease.

Massachusetts brownfield solar array

Borrego Solar installation at 311 Emery Street in Palmer, MA. (Photo By: Greg M. Cooper / Borrego Solar)

Syncarpha Capital, a rapidly growing developer, owner, operator and financier of utility-scale solar facilities, will finance, own, and operate the Palmer Airfield facility.

“The Palmer Airfield Solar Project provides an excellent example of the multiple benefits created by the fostering of renewable energy by the Commonwealth of Massachusetts and its implementation,” said Cliff Chapman, managing partner at Syncarpha Capital. “Not only will multiple public sector entities benefit financially and directly from this project, but, in addition, underutilized remediated brownfield land will now be used to provide positive environmental impact. Syncarpha and our development team partners are proud to a part of this endeavor.”

Borrego Solar—a developer, designer, installer and O&M provider of grid-tied solar energy systems—built the array and negotiated and finalized off-taker agreements with the Town of Leicester and the Town of Spencer.

 

Renewable Energy Massachusetts LLC (REM) is a Massachusetts-based solar energy development company founded in 2009 that has developed several large-scale operating solar projects in Massachusetts.

Mounting Challenges: Landfills, Brownfields, Water-Saturated Sites

solar flexrack ballasted mounting

A 3-MW New Jersey landfill Project from Solar FlexRack.

Landfills

Two of the most common types of landfill construction and classification are sanitary (municipal waste) and construction, demolition and debris (CDD) landfills. Sanitary landfills are normally constructed under rigid environmental specifications and standards, including rubber membrane linings for leachate collection, ground water monitoring wells, methane gas monitoring wells and often a PVC piping grid for venting. CDD landfills usually contain inert building materials such as concrete, brick and rock spoils and, therefore, are not regulated by stringent environmental requirements. They are typically closed with a simple soil cap.

When possible, landfills are typically sited and constructed in naturally occurring or artificially created topographic low landform features. However, in some cases, if shallow ground water levels exist or shallow bedrock is present, the landfills are constructed entirely above grade in convex mounds. In the early 20th century, common practice was to fill abandoned quarries or strip mines with refuse, which, upon closure, usually left a relatively level ground surface. Many landfill sites located in municipalities that are decommissioned and in post-closure monitoring are prime candidates for adaptive reuse for commercial utility-scale solar energy plants.

Construction challenges associated with landfill reuse include:

■ The rubber membrane liner/cap in sanitary landfills;
■ The highly variable debris content within the CDD landfills;
■ Limited accessibility within the landfill footprint to vehicular traffic; and
■ Finish grades and/or orientation of the landfill itself.

If landfills are constructed in a north-south orientation with excessively steep finish grades east to west (greater than 20 percent) across the landfill site, construction of solar arrays may be difficult without employing high-angle tilt racking components. For the sanitary landfill, installation of direct driven pilings, earth screws and helical piles is often precluded by the rubber membrane cap, and in the CDD landfill, there is a high likelihood of encountering building debris that will lead to multiple pile refusals. A concrete ballast foundation is one of the most common foundation solutions for landfill construction.

Next up, Brownfields (click next page)

— Solar Builder magazine

GameChange Pour-in-Place system used 2.5 MW Mass. landfill install

Citizens Energy Chairman Joseph P. Kennedy II, a former Member of Congress, joined with Westfield, Mass., Mayor Daniel Knapik in the ceremonial flipping of a switch in western MA featured in WWLP 22 NEWS.

GameChange Racking install

Click to watch video

The 2.5 MW Solar Landfill Installation utilized the GameChange Racking Pour-in-Place Ballasted Ground System, and is part of the 6.5 MW group of three landfill projects recently installed using GameChange Racking in the Westfield/Chicopee MA area.

The GameChange Racking patent-pending protected Pour-in-Place Ballasted Ground System is one of the latest innovations in the solar industry for landfills and brownfields. Some features include:

• Non-penetrating ballasted system ideal for landfill, brownfield and rocky sites.
• Pour-in-Place technology allows for self-leveling technology: 68% faster install than precast.
• Large ballast footprint reduces landfill cap loading.
• Rated for windspeeds up to 120 mph and snow loads up to 90 psf.
• Passed rigorous electrical and mechanical testing by ETL to UL 2703.
• Bankability technical due diligence assessment by industry leader Black & Veatch.
• Wind tunnel tested by industry leader CPP.

— Solar Builder magazine

Sustainable Development: The First Step Land Reclamation Is Environmental Assessment

This guest article addresses a subject many of us find it too easy to forget about and do nothing: BROWNFIELDS. Aaron Trussell, a college student majoring in environmental sciences, writes about the important issues of environmental assessment and land reclamation.

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High-impact industries might have been profitable at the time, but they have left imprints on the land that are often toxic. These legacies have left “brownfields” and blight on various properties, sometimes spreading the impact of their activities far beyond the physical area of the locations these industries originally occupied.

This land used to be considered too polluted to be useable by anyone, but it is now undergoing environmental reclamation thanks to new understanding of how we can reuse polluted land and new technologies. Lands disturbed by mining for resources, oil and gas extraction, various types of transportation, and logging have been transformed into economically productive or naturally beautiful and rich habitats once more.

The first step in this process of transformation is to conduct an environmental assessment. Here is what you need to know about environmental assessments to help you reclaim land and engage in sustainable development practices.

Land Reclamation is a Growing Trend

We only have a limited amount of space on Earth, and much of it is taken up by oceans or ice fields, is too far away from population centers to be useful, or is polluted. It makes sense to reclaim polluted lands whenever possible. The process is quite simple: improve land that has been disturbed by destructive activities until it is in a state to be used for the designated activity, or even until it is equally capable as it started before the destructive activity damaged it.

Common Land Reclamation Processes

The processes involved in land reclamation include reconstruction of soil, emergency measures to prevent further erosion and reverse the effects of any erosion that has already occurred, and various measures intended to make soil fertile or conducive to building, depending on the end goal of the land usage. Another process involves revegetation, which is replanting lands that have been stripped of their plant life. This may involve developing unique seed mixes or studying the chemical and nutrient composition of the soil.

Starting the Reclamation Process

The first step in the process is to get an environmental assessment done. It is important to know what potential environmental issues exist near the property or have existed in the past, how they might affect your property, and what you can do. An environmental assessment will help you figure out whether these past land uses are a problem. If you already know there is a problem, an environmental assessment will pinpoint the problem, potential solutions, and the steps you need to take to get planning permission and building permits.

Environmental assessments are a crucial tool in the process of land reclamation. With limited land available to use, and prime land often destroyed by the processes of mineral extraction, oil and gas activities, logging, and other destructive activities, it makes sense to revitalize land we already have available. Property owners don’t have to invest in new properties and can help the entire planet by increasing the useable and healthy land available. As we discover more about the impacts various activities have had on our habitat and try to reverse them, land reclamation is the way of the future.

Aaron Trussell is a college student majoring in environmental sciences. He’s passionate about  writing too, and blogs for a number of websites in his spare time on subjects related to his future career. Click for valuable Environmental Data Resources information.

Photo: Garvey Developments