Alternative Energy Sources Magazine – Megawatts for Maryland

A recently-completed 2-megawatt energy savings project in Maryland has delivered the largest solar canopy project at an Army installation in the U.S., with California-based Baja Construction Co. designing and manufacturing the carport structures in conjun

By Vicky Boyd

The recently completed 2-megawatt photovoltaic solar power system at the U.S. Army Laboratory Center near Adelphi, Maryland, is much more than an economic way to generate power that also meets renewable energy goals ahead of time. The system generates benefits that get to the heart of the facility’s mission.

“We’re here to support the community of tenants that we have on the installation the best we can,” said J. David Choat, Adelphi Research Center public affairs. “We support the research and development community and ultimately the soldier.”

The PV installation includes three carports totaling 1.79 MW-making it the largest solar canopy project at a U.S. Army installation-and two roof-mount systems accounting for an additional 300 kilowatts.

Although the Army had looked at solar power in the past as part of a much larger energy conservation program, it just didn’t pencil out, said Tom Bradford, chief engineer for the garrison.

As solar panel prices and interest rates dropped during the past few years, the idea of solar resurfaced-and this time it did make economic sense.

“Ameresco, the general contractor we were working with on the ESPC (Energy Savings Performance Contract) No. 2, said they thought we could refinance this whole project and add to it the renewable aspects to get our renewable energy goals,” Bradford said. “The solar isn’t considered low-hanging fruit, so it takes a little creative financing to make it financially viable.”

Nicole Bulgarino, senior vice president of federal solutions at Ameresco, said the firm has provided this service to a number of federal clients.

“By refinancing a higher rate ESPC with a lower-rate loan and term extension, a customer can implement additional ECMs (energy conservation measures) and remain budget-neutral,” Bulgarino said. “Using this approach, Adelphi was able to benefit from the design and installation of a variety of additional measures including new high-efficiency lighting with occupancy sensors; HVAC controls; data center optimization; heat recovery from a large exhaust fan to preheat incoming ventilation air; rainwater harvesting; and a new solar PV system.”

The expansive Adelphi laboratory center about 10 miles north of Washington, D.C., sits on more than 200 acres and includes three dozen buildings that house research activities as well as military-related entities, such as the Army Reserve.

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Alternative Energy Sources Magazine
By Vicky Boyd