Universities adding solar: Update on PV projects at Notre Dame, University of Virginia

Notre Dame goes solar

notre dame inovateus solar

Inovateus Solar has completed a 144.72-kW solar photovoltaic installation for the University of Notre Dame. The ground-mounted system is located at the Kenmore Warehouse storage facility and is the largest solar array built by the university to date as well as the biggest PV installation in South Bend.

The Kenmore solar system is connected to the main electric power feed for the building and will generate approximately 194,000 kWh of electricity annually, offsetting nearly one-third of the total electricity used by the facility. A net-metering agreement signed between the university and Indiana Michigan Power calls for any power generated in excess of the building’s immediate demand to be fed into the local grid for use by the utility and credited to Notre Dame.

The system is estimated to reduce the university’s carbon dioxide emissions by some 296,000 pounds the first year, and nearly 2000 tons over its lifespan of some 20 years.

Inovateus is developing and building several other major projects in the Midwest and adjacent regions, including a multi-site solar parking canopy installation at Michigan State University, which will be completed later this year and become the largest solar carport in North America.

UVA partners with Dominion Energy on solar facility

dominion solar power

The University of Virginia continues to expand its portfolio of carbon-free generation and achieve key sustainability targets with another partnership announced today with Dominion Energy.

Under a 25-year agreement, the University will purchase the entire output of a proposed 120-acre solar facility in Middlesex County. The solar facility, developed by Coronal Energy, will be constructed and owned by Dominion Energy. It will produce an estimated 15 megawatts of alternating current, or about 9 percent of the University’s electric demand.

The UVA Puller Solar facility joins the previously announced UVA Hollyfield Solar facility. In total, the two sites will produce 32 megawatts of solar energy and will offset about 21 percent of the University’s electric demand.

The UVA Puller Solar Facility was acquired as a development asset from Coronal Energy, a solar development company with regional headquarters in Charlottesville, Va. The facility will feature approximately 58,800 solar panels, enough to power about 3,750 homes at peak output. Construction is slated to start in late 2017, with commercial operations occurring by the end of 2018.

Coronal Energy, powered by Panasonic, is a leading independent power producer and provider of turnkey solar energy solutions tailored for diverse enterprise customers across North America, including utilities, corporations, and the public sector.

— Solar Builder magazine

Renewable energy project in Colorado draws interest from Department of Energy

The U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is partnering with Panasonic Corporation and Xcel Energy to simulate and optimize the energy load profile of Peña Station NEXT, a planned 382-acre mixed-use development in Denver, Colo.

The project will employ the grid modeling capabilities of NREL’s Energy Systems Integration Facility (ESIF) while demonstrating URBANopt software, a buildings and district energy modeling tool currently under development at NREL. Through this project, NREL hopes to enable a cost-effective, scalable net-zero development infrastructure that has great potential for replication and adoption across the U.S. in future developments.

Pena station panasonic solar project

“The NREL partnership with Panasonic and Xcel Energy helps deliver on our shared vision for clean, affordable, and reliable energy systems at a pace and scale that matters for our society,” said Juan Torres, NREL’s associate laboratory director for energy systems integration. “As a national user facility, the Energy Systems Integration Facility at NREL is an ideal place for both Panasonic and Xcel Energy to analyze and optimize the project’s energy master plan before construction, in a way that benefits all involved.”

The project uses URBANopt to analyze the projected dynamic energy consumption of corporate office space, retail space, multifamily dwellings, a hotel, parking, and street lighting within the planned development. The data will then be integrated into Xcel Energy’s grid distribution modeling tools to create a cost-effective design framework that the utility and developer can use to integrate more distributed energy resources, such as solar photovoltaics or efficient building systems, and innovative rate structures into the development before it is constructed.

DOE prioritizes solar power plant performance with Power Factors funding

The partners are confident the project holds great promise beyond Peña Station NEXT’s borders. Xcel Energy will consider owning and operating the necessary infrastructure to achieve carbon neutrality, potentially expanding the offering to future communities in Colorado. Panasonic is similarly interested in how it might replicate and scale carbon-neutral districts and developments across its other current and future smart city engagements through Panasonic CityNOW. NREL will share its expertise and apply the lessons learned from this project to future developments.

NREL’s ESIF is a flexible and fully integrated lab space dedicated to testing residential and commercial smart energy technologies. It is a one-of-a-kind testing space that connects appliances, electric vehicles, a home, or even a community to an end-to-end energy ecosystem. By incorporating power generation, energy storage, and dynamic energy loads into the facility, researchers can simulate and optimize real-world conditions in a controlled laboratory environment.

NREL is the U.S. Department of Energy’s primary national laboratory for renewable energy and energy efficiency research and development. NREL is operated for the Energy Department by The Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC.

— Solar Builder magazine

SMA and Cypress Creek enter into 10-year Master Service Agreement

SMA America recently signed a 10-year Master Services agreement with Cypress Creek Renewables, under which it will perform inverter preventive maintenance services for a portfolio of projects, primarily located in North Carolina.

SMA O&M services

Cypress Creek is a leading solar development company. Working in close partnership with local communities, Cypress Creek develops, builds, finances and operates local solar farms across the country. Cypress Creek has operating facilities in eight states and is actively developing projects in more than a dozen states.

“We are thrilled to enter into this agreement with Cypress Creek and begin a long-term collaboration,” said Chuck Smith, executive vice president of Service for SMA. “The SMA Inverter Preventative Maintenance program goes above and beyond the manufacturer’s recommended maintenances, and proactively addresses potential inverter issues that could result in unnecessary downtime.”

Cypress Creek has grown its portfolio of solar projects while managing operation and maintenance tasks in-house. To maximize the value of its projects, Cypress Creek has selected SMA to lend its expertise in inverter technologies to manage inverter risk. This will allow SMA and Cypress Creek to leverage each other’s core competencies to maximize plant life and profitability.

SMA Service currently has more than 2.5 GW of solar assets under operation and maintenance (O&M) agreements, which are monitored from SMA’s NERC compliant Solar Monitoring Centers located in California and Germany.

Keys to inverter service: Data granularity, remote updates, customer relations

— Solar Builder magazine

Soltec trackers chosen for high-wind PV site in South Carolina

Soltec, a manufacturer and supplier of solar PV tracking equipment, is supplying 28 MW of its SF Utility horizontal single-axis tracker to a solar PV power plant being constructed in the municipality of Estill, in the state of South Carolina. Soltec solar trackers are designed to operate normally even in harsh climatic conditions.

High wind events of cyclones and tornadoes are common in the humid subtropical region of South Carolina. Once again, SF Utility proves to be the ideal tracking equipment solution for the customers project challenges.

soltec trackers

“To meet the climate challenges of this project our R&D team has optimized control electronics to local conditions, and specified the appropriate foundation piles that maintain tracker stability against high winds. With these enhanced features, our trackers are configured to deliver as promised even during hurricane season, from June through November,” said José Alfonso Teruel, R&D Manager at Soltec. “Our high-speed motor design moves the tracker from the maximum tilt of 60 degrees to the horizontal position in less than three minutes for rapid stowing when strong winds are blowing.”

“Soltec has entered a master supply agreement with Cypress Creek Renewables, and we are committed to helping them succeed and become a repeating customer,” affirmed Raúl Morales, CEO of Soltec. “Our proven reliability to meet project criteria of schedule, cost, and quality helps customers choose us, while furthermore taking competitive advantage from the cost-effectiveness of our high-yield equipment with high-tolerance installation features.”

How to use tracker control systems to your advantage

 

— Solar Builder magazine

Phase three of 800-MW Mount Signal Solar Farm begins, says 8minuteenergy

8minutenergy Renewables, the largest independent solar power developer in the U.S., and global private asset manager Capital Dynamics, announced the acquisition and development of the 328 MW-dc Mount Signal 3 PV project located in the city of Calexico in California’s Imperial Valley. This is the third phase of the 800 MW Mount Signal Solar Farm, which is among the largest PV projects in the world.

8minutenergy_Mt-Signal_800_MW_3

Capital Dynamics acquired Mount Signal 3’s equity interests from 8minutenergy, who will continue to be the project developer. Although terms of the transaction are not being disclosed, Capital Dynamics is currently arranging tax equity and debt financing for the project, with financial closing expected in late July 2017.

Development details

8minutenergy started developing Mount Signal 3 in 2011, and has already completed all procurement and construction contracts. Mortenson Construction was appointed as the engineering, procurement, and construction (EPC) contractor, and will be hiring for 300-400 local construction jobs, starting this year. First Solar was selected as the panel supplier, providing 2.8 million Series 4 thin film panels. In addition, Southern California Edison (SCE) and 8minutenergy signed the long-term power purchase agreement in 2014 to deliver the project’s clean, renewable energy to residents in 15 surrounding counties. 8minutenergy will continue to oversee construction, and is expected to bring the plant to commercial operation by the end of 2018.

“As the original developer of the Mount Signal Solar Farm, we successfully built the 260 MW-dc Mount Signal 1 project, and brought it online in 2013. We are thrilled to bring Mount Signal 3 to fruition, which is the largest in 8minutenergy’s history,” said 8minutenergy CEO and Founder, Martin Hermann. “It’s our mission to deliver abundant and affordable clean energy, and we are certainly doing that with Mount Signal 3. Through our rigorous project development approach, we are going to once again be delivering solar power at cost-competitive rates to fossil fuels.”

 

8minutenergy engaged several advisory firms to close the MS3 transaction, most notably BofA Merrill Lynch as the lead financial advisor, and Orrick, Herrington & Sutcliffe as legal counsel. Capital Dynamics was represented by Amis, Patel & Brewer, LLP as legal counsel.

— Solar Builder magazine