Tags from Solar Spotlight

Unusable land becomes solar farm in Maryland

SMA Solar Spotlight

Harsh winter weather, abandoned telephone poles and a steep 25-percent grade couldn’t stop Solar Tech from completing and commissioning the Mt. Air Solar Farm in Newburg, Maryland. Its customer’s available land, the only that wasn’t tillable for farming, required substantial planning and engineering before a single solar module could be connected.

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0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

Whole Foods proves everything really is bigger in Texas

Austin’s well-known and well-loved chain of natural foods stores is like most things in Texas: it’s big. Whole Foods Market has long been nationally recognized as a leading organic grocery store, but the company’s new flagship store in Austin makes sustainability its biggest priority.

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5.00 avg. rating (98% score) - 3 votes

Solar spotlight: PV in paradise

The British Virgin Islands, known for beautiful beaches and miles of serene coastline, are ideal for rest and relaxation. For travelers looking to escape big-city type noise, the diesel generators powering most vacation resorts wasn’t a welcome sound. Generating electricity on remote Caribbean islands used to be a dirty job, until hybrid solar power systems started cleaning it up.

Sunny Islands line a wall at the Cooper Island Beach Club.

Sunny Islands line a wall at the Cooper Island Beach Club.

Becoming eco-friendly

When the Cooper Island Beach Club changed ownership in 2008, the new owners wanted to develop and eco-friendly resort while improving guest amenities and services. The resort’s ownership worked with Alternative Energy Systems of the BVI to design a hybrid energy system to reduce diesel fuel consumption and subsequent noise created by the generators.

The system, installed in phases to grow with the resort over four years, began with 90 Kyocera 210W modules, nine Sunny Island 5048 inverters, three Sunny Boy 7000-US inverters and 243 kWh of battery storage. Phases two and three saw the addition of 63 Kyocera 245W modules, three Sunny Island 5048 inverters and four Sunny Boy 4000-US inverters, plus an additional 198 kWh of battery storage. A Multicluster Box connects the system’s 34 kW of PV, battery banks and generators to ensure simple and care-free operation.

“Choosing SMA for this project was simple,” said Jacco Bos, professional engineer and managing director of AES. “SMA offered the full solution to meet our customer’s fuel saving goals and made it easy to expand the system based on the resort’s growth.”

Guest facilities with rooftop arrays and beachfront views.

Guest facilities with rooftop arrays and beachfront views.

A 70 percent reduction in fuel consumption was achieved after completion of the third phase. Generators now run between four and eight hours a day, at or near full capacity to handle peak energy demands. Prior to installing the PV-diesel hybrid system, the two 65 kVa generators ran near continuously, often inefficiently at idle to support minor loads. Reducing that idle operating time was the single-largest contributor to fuel savings.

The system was designed to run the generators during morning and evening load peaks and as-needed to charge the resort’s battery banks. During non-peak hours, the resort is able to operate solely on power from the PV system and batter bank.

“After four years of operation, the most impressive aspect is the minimal maintenance required,” said Bos. “The Sunny Islands have been operating for more than 30,000 hours and only need routine cleaning and electrical torques.  Compared to a diesel engine, which requires regular oil changes, rebuilds and replacement by this time, the SMA inverters are proving to be highly reliable.”

Stunning beaches and clear waters are reason enough to incorporate eco-friendly business practices.

Stunning beaches and clear waters are reason enough to incorporate eco-friendly business practices.

Beyond Solar

For Cooper Island’s new ownership, eco-friendly goes deeper than implementing renewable energy. The resort has begun an aggressive makeover to ensure sustainable operations are implemented whenever possible. To date, the resort has installed a solar hot water system, rainwater cisterns, LED lighting and drip irrigation systems.

To help sustain the reefs and oceans surrounding Cooper Island, biodegradable and reef-friendly cleaning products have become standard use. Recycling, composting and reuse of fryer oil for bio-diesel have also raised the resort’s sustainability efforts without sacrificing guests’ experience.

The Cooper Island Beach Club’s dedication to renewable energy and sustainability has continued to grow with the resort’s popularity. Plans for future expansion include additional renewable energy sources; we look forward to seeing the next phase of Cooper Island’s success.

Solar Spotlight aims to highlight SMA inverters in real-world situations. Email us with information about your SMA-powered PV projects at SocialMedia@SMA-America.com.

4.75 avg. rating (94% score) - 4 votes

Challenge Accepted: Limited roof space trumped by the desire for solar

There is no lack on sunshine in Chandler, Arizona. Residents of this Phoenix suburb enjoy 211 days of sunshine annually with an additional 85 days of partial sun—perfect for solar power. But a residential PV system needs more than just abundant sunshine to be a wise choice. It also needs a willing partner – a roof capable of handling the added demands of a solar power system. This was the challenge faced by Jeff Spies, Senior Director of Business Development for Quick Mount PV when he made the decision to install a 4.7 kW system on his home.

Raising the roof
Flashed Quick Hooks for tile roofs are nearly hidden and provide reliable 30 year waterproofing and robust mounting to the roof.

Flashed Quick Hooks for tile roofs are nearly hidden and provide reliable 30 year waterproofing and robust mounting to the roof.

Before a single module was installed, Spies knew the condition of his roof wouldn’t last the 30 years he expects of his PV system. Fortunately, American Solar is licensed for both solar and roof work and was ready for the job.

The tile roof’s 16-year-old deteriorated felt underlayment was upgraded to #90 mineral surface roofing underlayment and drain-through battens replaced original wood battens to maximize rainwater drainage. Plumbing and gas vent stacks were also removed or relocated to make room for the array.

The finished appearance of the first story array is very attractive—no visible flashing.

Mounting and positioning

Once the roof was deemed solar-ready, installers used Quick Mount PV’s flashed Quick Hook and Ironrdige standard rail. This configuration fully conceals the roof flashing to maximize the array’s appearance.

Serious consideration was also given to the array’s orientations. With no true-south facing roof area, the system was designed using two separate strings of LG 260W Mono X Series modules, 18 total, on different rooflines, taking advantage of the dual channel inputs and MPP tracking on the Sunny Boy 4000TL-US. By positioning one string southeast (3.1kW) and one southwest (1.6 kW), power production and roof space were both maximized.

Secure Power Supply

No one wants to gamble on a grid failure, especially on a hot Arizonan summer day. But if it happens, Spies knows he has a game plan. The TL-US series’ Secure Power Supply is a switched outlet that provides up to 1,500W of standby power should the grid go down during daylight hours.

American Solar's Will Herndon and Jeremy Lippens after routing the secure power supply outlet inside the home.

American Solar’s Will Herndon and Jeremy Lippens after routing the secure power supply outlet inside the home.

“The SPS outlet is wired inside my house and stays hidden when I don’t need it,” said Spies. “But it provides peace of mind knowing that when we have a power failure, I’ve got standby power to keep my fridge cold and my phone charged so my family and I can stay in touch.”

Long-term planning is an integral part of a PV system’s design. From roof repairs and weatherization to Secure Power Supply to help mitigate downtime from grid outages, thorough planning can make or break a PV system’s effectiveness. Good planning means this house is ready to handle whatever the conditions throw at it.

4.86 avg. rating (96% score) - 7 votes

Solar Spotlight: Ted Turner’s Hunting and Fishing Lodge Goes Off-Grid


Costilla Lodge, a 578,000 acre hunting and fishing resort owned by media mogul and multi-billionaire Ted Turner, recently commissioned at $1 million off-grid solar system.

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4.67 avg. rating (93% score) - 3 votes

Utility Company Looks to the Future with Micro Grid Project

PowerStream, which provides power and related services to more than 360,000 residential and commercial customers in communities located immediately north of Toronto and in Central Ontario, is a community-owned energy company with vision. It aims to support smart grid development at the provincial level and raise awareness of the need to leverage innovative smart technologies in Ontario’s electricity sector. One way it is accomplishing this goal is through its micro grid demonstration project located at its corporate headquarters in Vaughan, Ontario.

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0.00 avg. rating (0% score) - 0 votes

Solar Spotlight: Award-Winning PV System Revs Up Illinois Parking Garage


When the Village of Oak Park, Ill., commissioned a PV system for the Avenue Parking Garage, it didn’t intentionally set out to win any awards. However, the array’s exceptional design, which was not without its challenges, made it a shoe-in for the 2013 Project of the Year Award (Structures Less than $5 Million) from the American Public Works Association (APWA) Chicago Metro Chapter and has since been nominated for an APWA national award.

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5.00 avg. rating (98% score) - 2 votes

Historic Vermont Barn Gains 18kW Solar Array with Secure Power Supply

Alex Wilson - PV on barn roof

When BuildingGreen Inc. founder Alex Wilson started to re-build his home and barn in West Dummerston, Vt., he knew that he wanted it to be “net-zero.” Net-zero means the property will produce 100 percent of the energy needed to run the house and barn. To make this happen, Wilson needed a solar-electric, or photovoltaic (PV), system that could generate as much energy as was consumed. 

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5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 1 vote

Solar Spotlight: S.L. Horsford Passes on the Savings from Solar-Generated Power

S.L. Horsford and Co.

S.L. Horsford and Co. Ltd., based in Basseterre, St. Kitts – an island in the Caribbean West Indies — is a diversified company involved in multiple trading, service and manufacturing activities through its various operating departments, subsidiaries and associated companies. Established in 1875, S.L. Horsford knows the key to longevity in a sometimes volatile business climate: evolve with the times and keep the customer’s best interests at heart. That’s why it decided to commission photovoltaic systems for several of its businesses. Not only will it significantly reduce its energy consumption and carbon footprint, but this initiative will also increase the performance of the company as a whole while placing it in an even better position to pass on benefits and savings to their loyal customer base.

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3.00 avg. rating (71% score) - 2 votes

Solar Spotlight: Trade Union Employs the Sun at Sacramento Training Center

IBEW Solar Spotlight
Members are greeted by Sunny Boys mounted on a Sunny Tower in the IBEW lobby.

Members are greeted by SMA Sunny Boys mounted on a Sunny Tower in the IBEW training center’s lobby.

Since 1902, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 340 has represented members and retirees in a wide variety of fields, including utilities, construction, telecommunications, broadcasting, manufacturing, railroads and government. Conveniently located in California’s state capital of Sacramento, Local 340 lobbies on behalf of myriad industries—including solar—and hosts government officials, in addition to servicing union members.

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5.00 avg. rating (98% score) - 3 votes

Cedars-Sinai Hospital to the Stars Gets Power from the Sun

Cedars Sinai Solar Spotlight

Cedars-Sinai, otherwise known as “Hollywood’s Hospital,” has been made famous for treating some of Hollywood’s most elite celebrities including Patrick Swayze, Frank Sinatra and Madonna. Cedars-Sinai is located in Los Angeles, California, and is a non-profit hospital and research institute that offers top-notch medical care to patients from around the globe. 

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5.00 avg. rating (97% score) - 1 vote

Colorado Dome Home – from Astronaut’s Dream House to Educational Facility

Photo Credit: Iron Edison

Nestled in the foothills just west of Denver in Conifer, Colorado is a home unlike any other in this predominately suburban neighborhood. The 4,049 square foot “Dome Home” was originally built in 1996 by Bilby Wallace, a former astronaut, and sits on 38 beautiful acres at the base of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. 

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5.00 avg. rating (98% score) - 4 votes