Saturday, June 20, 2015

South Burlington Solar Farm Tour

The South Burlington Energy Committee hosted the Celebrate Solar Tour at the South Burlington Solar Farm, located at the end of Dubois Drive, off of Hinesburg Road. (June 20, 2015)

South Burlington, VT Photos

Follow that plane. Oops, I mean follow the sun, all you solar trackers.

Sunscreen not required. 

Our host, David Blittersdorf, Pres./CEO of allEarth Renewables.

Dave related to us that this 

25 acre Solar Farm was built in 2011, has 382 solar trackers, creates 2.13 mega watts of electricity and provides enough electricity to power about 450 homes. Mr. Larkin owns the land and has an option to purchase the installation (solar trackers). 

In comparison to this Solar Farm 2.2 megawatt output, the four turbine wind-farm in Georgia, Vermont can create 10 MW of electricity. (Source: Green Mountain Community Wind). For another comparison the  McNeil generating station (wood burning plant) in BTV creates ~50 MW of electricity.

Electricity generated on this solar farm is sold under the Vermont *standard offer program  to Green Mountain Power. (*A state program to encourage the development of renewable energy sources in Vermont.)

Vermont gets about 11 to 12% of all its energy consumption from renewable energy. 
The Vermont Public Service Department, in its Comprehensive Energy Plan in 2011, calls for 90% of the state's energy needs (electric, heating, and transportation) to be met with renewable energy resources by 2050.

David advised that brush-hog work is done in late July - after bird nesting season so as not to disturb the bird's nests. 

This solar farm installation's price tag - $12.6 million. Today's cost for an equivalent sized solar farm- estimate of $7.6 million. Panel prices dropped to 10% to 15% (85%-90% reduction in price) in the last ten years in part thanks to investment and volume production by China.

The panels are made from the same material as computer chips - silicon. 

The solar farm contract and state permit extend for 25 years. The panels degrade about 0.4% per year. The projection is that in 25 years, the panels will still provide about 85% of their original production capacity. 

Each tracker has its own GPS with a sun table. By tracking or following the sun, these units are able to provide about *30% more energy than fixed ground- mounted systems. *Ref: allEarthSolar

Since each unit works **independently of the others, if one goes off line, the others can continue to produce electricity. **Ref: Solar Pro

No concrete was used in the foundation of these units. They are literally screwed into the ground, about eight feet down. The electrical wires inside of HDPE conduit (more environmental friendly than PVC) were buried underground in a narrow trench. 

Permitting for a project this size takes about six months currently, while installation takes about four to eight weeks.

The trackers dump snow in the winter by going to a vertical position. 

The power from this solar farm is sold at a fixed price for 25 years, at which time the contract and permit must be re-negotiated. 

The anemometers measure wind speed. In winds over 30 mph, the panels move to a flat position. 

A state regulatory agency required the fencing. The entire site is monitored via remote camera.

To be fenced in or out, that is the question.

allEarth Renewables
allEarth Renewables press release for SB Solar Farm completion
South Burlington Energy Committee
Georgia Mountain Community Wind
Vermont’s Sustain-ably Priced Energy Enterprise Development (SPEED) standard-offer program
Vermont's Standard offer subscribers
Vermont Public Service Department State Renewable Energy Goals
Read more details about this solar farm installation @ Solar Pro
Vermont's 2015 Renewable Energy Standard Bill (H.40)
2015 forecasted 'big year' for solar (globally)

Bernie publishes short stories and photos reflecting Vermont values of Green and Clean and Community. He urges us all to pick up litter in order to protect our water, wildlife, and human health. 
Bernie resides in SB, Vermont