You’ve seen solar carports, probably many of them, but you haven’t seen solar carports like this.
Towards the end of last month, Santa Ana Golf Club (SAGC) in Bernalillo, New Mexico had a 250-kW (DC) carport solar array installed to help power its facilities and provide protection from weather elements for cars in its parking lot. The installation makes SAGC New Mexico’s first solar-powered golf club. The carport is expected to offset 95% of the facility’s power usage and save the club over $2 million in electricity costs.
Carports have emerged as a popular platform for solar arrays, however, Santa Ana’s model offers one-of-a-kind design elements including integrated Spanish-style steel corbels, a minimalist racking design, locally-sourced hand-blown glass emblems, LED energy-efficient lighting and a custom paint job seamlessly integrated with surrounding buildings.
Osceola Energy, the unique project’s installer, was founded by a husband and wife team who wanted to combine their talents in design and electrical contracting with their passion for a sustainable New Mexico. Founded in 2009, the electrical contracting company focused primarily on residential applications before moving to commercial projects.
Not having developed a solar carport before the SAGC project, the company drew on inspiration from its native New Mexico surroundings, incorporating colors, design features and simplicity that is prolific within the region. The carport has important environmental and economic impacts, Christopher Fortson, Marketing Director at Osceola Energy remarked. In addition to those benefits, the design elements allow the carport to demonstrate that renewables such as solar have many practical applications beyond simple rooftop arrays and solar farms.
“Our fundamental belief is that renewable energy systems should be both functional and aesthetically pleasing,” Fortson said. “All too often we hear that ‘solar is ugly,’ and we stand to challenge that perception. Our motto is ‘solar so beautiful, you’ll want to show it off.’”
“We chose Osceola Energy because of its focus on aesthetics, as well as its extensive knowledge of solar energy systems,” Derek Gutierrez, director of the Santa Ana Golf Club, said about the facility’s decision to “go solar” with the New Mexico-based EPC. “Integrating renewable energy is important to us; it’s part of our commitment to environmental sustainability in New Mexico.”
The installation consists of 840 polycrystalline Canadian Solar panels with a capacity to produce 250 kW (DC) per hour, while also serving the practical function of shading guests’ vehicles. SAGC’s carport powers all of its facilities, including a restaurant and bar. About 800,000 lbs of carbon emissions will be reduced annually.
During the construction of the carport, a priority of Osceola Energy was to ensure that operations did not interfere with SAGC’s daily operations and customers. “Because we were building the structure in the only parking area available for patrons, special precaution was taken to ensure space was created and available for automobiles in the vicinity,” Fortson said. “A planning timeline was needed to ensure that certain areas were always available to the public and safe for parking during the construction process.”
Osceola Energy will operate and maintain the system, allowing SAGC to focus on its daily operations and patron needs. The two companies look forward to a greener future for New Mexico, and hope other local businesses will follow suit.
“Solar systems have been around since the 1950’s, but are finally becoming more prevalent and practical because of advancements in the industry that have lowered the cost,” said Adam Harper, president and CEO of Osceola Energy. “Customers are seeing that they can save money on energy costs and help the environment at the same time. It just makes sense.”
Project: Santa Ana Golf Club
Location: Bernalillo, New Mexico
Carport manufacturer: CBC Steel Buildings
Modules: Canadian Solar Max Power CS6X 310W
No. of modules: 840
Inverters: SMA Sunny Tripower 15000TL-US, 24000TL-US
No. of inverters: (5) 15000TL-US; (6) 24000TL-US
System capacity: 250 kW (DC)