A 22-acre Toledo Zoo brownfield site that was once in receivership is starting a brand-new life as home to the recently completed 2.1-MW Anthony Wayne ground-mount solar array. Bordered by a buffer zone with newly planted trees and green spaces for native grasses that will be planted this fall, the 28,500-panel solar array is one of the largest in the nation to supply power to a zoo and will produce approximately 2.6 MWh per year.
“Environmental stewardship is an integral part of the Toledo Zoo’s mission,” says Jeff Sailer, executive director of the Toledo Zoo. “This solar array supports the Zoo’s mission by using cleaner and greener energy, reducing reliance on non-renewable energy while providing an inspiring example for Zoo visitors.”
The solar array and property are owned by a group of local investors led by Rudolph/Libbe, a Solar Power World Top 250 Contractor. Rudolph/Libbe and GEM Energy designed, developed and constructed the solar array, and structured the exclusive power purchase agreement with the Toledo Zoo.
The project was built with Calyxo solar modules, which use innovative thin film technology developed in Toledo. Nextronex, of Toledo, provided the inverters, combiner boxes, and distributed architecture for the solar array. AP Alternatives, of Ridgeville Corners, supplied steel racks for the solar modules.
“Energy cost and environmental stewardship are increasingly important to our customers in today’s global economy,” says Bill Rudolph, chairman of Rudolph/Libbe. “We’re honored to support the Toledo Zoo’s mission of environmental stewardship through this project.”
Local union labor from northwest Ohio constructed the project, which created about 60 construction jobs.
“We employ many of the area’s most skilled, dedicated and experienced tradespeople,” says Jason Slattery, director of solar for Rudolph/Libbe. “This project is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to benefit the zoo and the community. We took a contaminated brownfield site, a financial burden for the city, and turned it into a win for the city of Toledo and the Toledo Zoo.”
In 2010, Rudolph/Libbe also designed and built the Toledo Zoo’s SolarWalk. The SolarWalk includes more than 1,400 solar panels and is designed to resemble a snake winding along the perimeter of the zoo parking lot to the entrance, and generated 99,041.29 kWh of electricity last year.
Here’s a look at Solar Power World’s previous coverage on this story: