Solar Builder 2018 Silver Project of the Year: Annapolis Renewable Energy Park

solar builder project of the year silver

This year’s Silver Project of the Year, the 18-MW Annapolis Renewable Energy Park, is an 80-acre monument to the virtues of civic collaboration. The project’s 54,000 solar panels will generate over 20,000 MWh of clean electricity each year (enough to power more than 12 percent of the city’s homes), generate more than $5 million in revenue for the city over the course of its 20-year lease and save taxpayers an estimated $1.7 million over that time.

And it almost never happened.

A Fresh Start

Annapolis solar project

Annapolis Renewable Energy Park | Annapolis, Md. | 18 MW

  • Developer: BQ Energy
  • Contractor: EDF Renewables, Distributed Solutions
  • Modules: REC Solar
  • Inverters: Power Electronics
  • Mounting: Solar FlexRack

Solar projects situated on landfills are notoriously tedious to get done in terms of financing and construction, and this was no different (we will get to that) but for years the largest obstruction to progress were the two jurisdictions getting on the same page.

“The city and county working together seems so obvious, and for decades it didn’t happen,” says Steve Schuh, county executive for Anne Arundel County at the ground breaking. “The city and county maintained a relationship of either mutually ignoring each other or outright hostility.”

Thus, a project originally tabled as far back as 2009 couldn’t garner enough support to move forward. This all changed when Michael Pantelides was elected Mayor of Annapolis. Finally a partnership was formed to allow both jurisdictions to pursue projects that benefited each of their goals, stuff like environmental cleanup, improved waterways, restoring the oyster population and a focus on bringing in new jobs. The Annapolis Renewable Energy Park is a culmination of many of these goals as it is the largest landfill project in Maryland and possibly the largest in North America.

Development

Solar builder project of the year annapolis

The Annapolis project is financed 100 percent by private money. Poughkeepsie, N.Y.-based BQ Energy LLC was in charge of the construction and specializes in landfill projects. The company became interested in the project when Annapolis issued a request for proposal, and BQ Energy subsequently signed a 20-year lease for the space in August 2015. The ensuing two years were all about permitting and lining up the stakeholders.

The Annapolis Renewable Energy Park is remarkable for its size and complexity. As with any landfill project, contractors had to follow strict EPA protocols and state regulations, such as needing non-penetrating racking technology to prevent damage to the site’s environmental cap. National engineering, procurement and construction firm EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions led the way on the ground. They turned to Solar FlexRack for the racking, a Youngstown, Ohio-based provider that’s become synonymous with landfill solar projects. Unable to drill piles into the landfill’s protective membrane cap, Solar FlexRack’s Series B (ballasted) Pre-Cast solar mounting technology was selected to transfer loads into the concrete block and allow for reductions in ballast thickness.

“Solar FlexRack’s expertise in this important niche market makes the company a perfect partner for landfill projects,” says Jamie Resor, CEO, EDF Renewables Distributed Solutions. “We are pleased to work with a firm that can provide the precise, high-quality product required to execute our vision for the Annapolis Renewable Energy Park.”

The seven pre-fabricated inverter stations were designed and handled to meet the size and weight restrictions. Trucks were allowed in according to a careful schedule to prevent damage to the roads and to protect the environmental cap on the landfill. Furthermore, the design allowed access to 10 methane vents on the landfill that are maintained by the city of Annapolis during the operating phase of the solar energy facility.

Upon completion, the assets were turned over to Building Energy Development U.S. LLC, a subsidiary of Italian renewable energy company Building Energy S.p.A., which will provide the money necessary to repay the loans. In the end, all these efforts converted a formerly toxic, unusable property the size of almost 60 football fields into a powerhouse supplier of clean energy that created over 100 new jobs.

— Solar Builder magazine

Hawaiian Electric Company, U.S. Navy break ground on solar farm in O’ahu

Hawaii Navy solar project

REC Solar and Hawaiian Electric Co. broke ground on a 20-megawatt (MW), fixed-tilt solar facility, located at the U.S. Navy’s Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam West Loch Annex. Once completed, the West Loch solar farm will produce the lowest-cost renewable energy in the state at less than 8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

REC Solar will be building the 80,760-panel solar facility, the first grid-scale solar project to be owned and operated by Hawaiian Electric. Over its expected 25-year lifespan, the solar farm will save Hawaiian Electric customers approximately $109 million, reducing the utility’s use of imported oil by 76,000 barrels annually. The facility will feed into the island’s electric grid and serve all customers on Oʻahu.

In addition to the energy savings, the solar facility will be built on 102-acres of U.S. Navy-owned land. In exchange for the land, Hawaiian Electric is providing electrical infrastructure upgrades to U.S. Navy-owned facilities.

RELATED: New Financing Model, Acquisition Position REC Solar for Commercial Success

As a prominent player in Hawai’i’s clean energy transition, REC Solar has committed to creating a positive impact by bringing sustainable power to the islands. The company has not only been ranked by Pacific Business News (PBN) as the number one commercial solar provider in Hawai’i in 2016, it also successfully completed the installation of Hawai’i’s largest solar facility to-date in 2017.

“REC Solar’s proven track record in Hawai’i and elsewhere and their ability to help us provide value to our customers is why we chose to work together,” said Ron Cox, senior vice president of operations for Hawaiian Electric. “This project will help our state move closer to achieving its renewable energy goals and we appreciate our collaboration with a reliable partner like REC Solar.”

Hawai’i’s clean energy mandate calls for 100 percent renewable energy by 2045. Hawaiian Electric is currently seeking qualified proposals for nearly 400 megawatts of grid-scale renewable energy projects for O’ahu, Maui and Hawai’i Island, the largest procurement in the state’s history. In the first nine months of 2017, the state generated more than 10 percent of its electricity from solar, one of only three states to do so.

— Solar Builder magazine

REC Solar debuts new solar farm for Cal Poly, develops student education program

Cal Poly solar

Cal Poly’s new solar farm, the university’s first major energy project since announcing a goal of climate neutrality, was dedicated at a Jan. 24, ceremony at the site.

The 18.5-acre solar farm will generate more than 11 million kWh per year — enough to power more than 1,000 homes, or about 25 percent of Cal Poly’s total needs — and includes more than 16,000 individual solar panels with a capacity of 4.5 megawatts (AC). The Cal Poly project uses single-axis tracking technology.

In addition to the environmental benefits, the energy it produces will provide direct savings of about $10 million on Cal Poly’s utility bills over 20 years and will create “Learn by Doing” opportunities for students.

Cal Poly partnered with San Luis Obispo-based REC Solar (which was founded by Cal Poly graduates) to design, construct and maintain the solar facility. REC Solar is a Duke Energy-owned company and a leading provider of solar solutions for colleges, universities and school districts with more than 100 completed solar projects for schools that together generate over 30 megawatts. REC Solar also develops solar curriculum and other means of academic enrichment for school clients.

The solar farm was designed to maximize academic applications for both students and faculty by creating a solar engineering and microgrid laboratory in the Electrical Engineering building for students to conduct experiments with solar technology in a hands-on environment. A wide variety of solar farm performance data will be continuously measured and made available through a web-based dashboard to aid in solar technology research.

In addition, Cal Poly’s Animal Science program will use the site to research vegetation management practices for utility scale solar farms by grazing the site with its sheep herd.

“We applaud Cal Poly’s creativity in leveraging the system to inspire research in sustainability for years to come. REC Solar is privileged to be a part of the university’s sustainability journey,” said REC Solar CEO Matt Walz.

REC Solar is partnering with the university to provide funds for student and faculty involvement; help develop curriculum that meets Cal Poly’s sustainability learning objectives and educates future renewable energy professionals; and collaborate on applied research. The curriculum will integrate solar photovoltaic (PV) fundamentals into a variety of science and engineering courses and create new courses for renewable energy system design.

“This is a huge step toward our goal of climate neutrality, and we are very excited about using this new facility to support students’ hands-on learning,” said Dennis Elliot, the university’s director of energy, utilities and sustainability.

California’s Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006 set groundbreaking goals to cut the state’s greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by 2020, and 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050. The 23-campus California State University system, including Cal Poly, chose to go beyond state mandates in its 2014 Sustainability Policy, aiming to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions to 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2040 — 10 years ahead of the state goal.

For Earth Day 2016, university President Jeffrey D. Armstrong made Cal Poly a Charter Signatory to the Climate Leadership Commitment, establishing a goal to implement clean-energy plans and achieve a net-zero energy status through energy efficiency and renewable energy by 2050. The efforts also include LEED certified energy-efficient campus buildings, Cal Poly currently has seven LEED-certified projects that represent nearly a third of the campus’ 6 million square feet of building space.

Visit www.sustainability.calpoly.edu for more on Cal Poly’s sustainability efforts.

— Solar Builder magazine

IKEA reveals plans for PV system atop Jacksonville location

ikea solar project

IKEA announced plans to install solar panels atop its future Jacksonville store opening Fall 2017. Panel installation will begin this summer, with completion expected in early Fall for what will be the fifth IKEA solar array in the State of Florida.

The Jacksonville store’s 251,206-square-foot solar array will consist of a 1.89 MW system, built with 5,472 panels, and will produce approximately 2,753,070 kWh of electricity annually for the store, the equivalent of reducing 2,133 tons of carbon dioxide (CO2).

For the development, design and installation of the new store’s solar power system, IKEA selected REC Solar, a national leader in solar electric design and installation with more than 600 systems built across the U.S. Marcobay Construction is building the store that will reflect the same unique architectural design for which IKEA stores are known worldwide.

“We are excited about furthering our sustainability commitment and contributing to a low-carbon society with solar atop our future Jacksonville store,” said Lars Petersson, IKEA U.S. president. “We have a mission to create a better everyday life for the many, and IKEA Jacksonville can add to this goal and keep us Florida’s largest non-utility private solar owner.”

How to use tracker control systems to your advantage

This installation will represent the 49th solar project for IKEA in the United States, contributing to the IKEA solar presence atop nearly 90% of its U.S. locations, with a total generation of more than 42 MW. IKEA owns and operates each of its solar PV energy systems atop its buildings – as opposed to a solar lease or PPA (power purchase agreement) – and globally has allocated $2.5 billion to invest in renewable energy through 2020, reinforcing its confidence and investment in solar photovoltaic technology. Consistent with the goal of being energy independent by 2020, IKEA has installed more than 700,000 solar panels on buildings across the world and owns approximately 300 wind turbines, including 104 in the U.S.

IKEA, drawing from its Swedish heritage and respect of nature, believes it can do good business while minimizing impacts on the environment. Globally, IKEA evaluates locations regularly for conservation opportunities, integrates innovative materials into product design, works to maintain sustainable resources, and flat-packs goods for efficient distribution. Specific U.S. sustainable efforts include: recycling waste material; incorporating environmental measures into the actual buildings with energy-efficient HVAC and lighting systems, recycled construction materials, skylights in warehouse areas, and water-conserving restrooms; and operationally, eliminating plastic bags from the check-out process, and selling only LED bulbs. IKEA has installed electric vehicle charging stations at 15 stores, with more locations planned.

The 290,000-square-foot future IKEA Jacksonville and its 950 parking spaces will be built on 25 acres along the northwestern corner of Interstate 295 and Gate Parkway, approximately 10 miles southeast of downtown Jacksonville. Until the future IKEA Jacksonville opens in Fall 2017, customers can shop at IKEA Orlando and IKEA Tampa or online at IKEA-USA.com. Two other IKEA stores are located in the South Florida cities of Sunrise and Sweetwater.

Since its 1943 founding in Sweden, IKEA has offered home furnishings of good design and function at low prices so the majority of people can afford them. There are currently more than 390 IKEA stores in 48 countries, including 43 in the U.S. IKEA has been ranked among “Best Companies to Work For” and, as further investment in its coworkers, has raised its own minimum wage twice in two years. IKEA incorporates sustainability into day-to-day business and supports initiatives that benefit children and the environment. For more information see IKEA-USA.com, @IKEAUSANews, @IKEAUSA or IKEAUSA on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Pinterest.

— Solar Builder magazine

REC Solar completes installation of Hawaii’s largest solar project

REC Solar completed the installation of 27.6 MW of solar at the Eurus WaianaeSolar Project. The utility-scale project, whose yearly energy output is equivalent to the electricity used by 11,000 homes, is owned and operated by Eurus Energy, an independent power producer and global developer of utility scale wind and solar projects.

The Eurus Waianae Solar Project is the largest solar installation in the state and a significant step toward Hawaii achieving its ambitious goal of operating on 100 percent renewable energy by 2045.

REC solar“In addition to the cost savings and energy generating benefits, this system demonstrates Hawaii’s commitment to a clean energy future,” said Satoshi Takahata, President and CEO of Eurus Energy Americaat Eurus Energy America. “REC Solar was a key partner in this project and we are excited to see the completed system generating renewable energy for the island.”

Built on 200 acres in West Oahu, the Eurus Waianae Solar Project sells its energy to Hawaiian Electric Company, Inc. under a 22-year PPA and at approximately 14.5 cents per kilowatt-hour, making it one of Hawaii’s lowest-cost renewable energy projects.

“The Eurus Waianae project is the latest in our growing list of large ground-mount solar arrays in Hawaii,” said Matt Walz, CEO of REC Solar. “The successful completion of this project, in addition to our 5MW Aloha Solar and 12MW KIUC Anahola installations, shows our ability to meet unique customer site requirements, work alongside partners and manage the changing Hawaii regulatory requirements.”

REC Solar provided procurement, construction and project management under an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) agreement executed with the Eurus affiliate, EE Waianae Solar Project LLC. The project deployed trackers from Exosun, a supplier of advanced solar tracking solutions for ground-mounted photovoltaic (PV) plants, to maximize the system’s energy output.

REC Solar is the largest commercial solar provider in Hawaii. The company’s customers include Dole Plantation, Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Longs Drugs, Public Storage, Safeway and Turtle Bay Resort. Additionally, the company recently completed a 60-acre, 12MW solar farm for the Kauai Island Utility Cooperative that generates 5 percent of the island’s energy needs.

— Solar Builder magazine