Last year Ashland, Mass.-based contractor SolarFlair Energy installed solar across the roofs of six businesses in the town of Westborough, Mass. Solarflair Vice President of Business Development Dan Greenwood said this is a big accomplishment for his company. “For a large nationwide company it may not sound like a lot, but to a locally owned company of 67 employees, we think its a bid deal,” he said.
The businesses include a high tech manufacturer, a food storage company, a dog training facility, a waste hauling and recycling business and a tennis and swim club.
Together the projects totaled 3.2 MW and covered more than 260,000 square feet of under-utilized roof space. The grid-connected solar installations will produce more than 3,750,000 kWh of clean energy every year, enough power to run 500 homes. The solar energy and energy credits generated from these projects will benefit eight Massachusetts businesses providing them with a clean source of energy and discounted electricity compared to the use of traditional fossil fuel energy.
“This is an innovative way for commercial businesses to lower their operating costs, help reduce our dependency on fossil fuel, and educate the community about the current and future opportunities for clean energy technology” Greenwood said.
Two of the installations (for a total of 2 MW) will be owned and operated by SolarFlair Energy. The company entered into long term roof lease agreements with the owners of each building. These projects will benefit from the ARRA Federal Stimulus 1603 Treasury Grant and the Massachusetts Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) program. The 1603 Grant will cover approximately 28% of the project cost. In addition, for each KWh produced by the PV system Solarflair will earn a Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) which can be sold to electric utilities needing to meet state renewable energy mandates. Over the next 10 years the SREC market projects to add between 20 cents and 30 cents to the value of each KWh of electricity produced by solar, dramatically reducing payback periods and improving the return on investment for solar system owners. Recipients of the discounted electricity credits include local restaurants and commercial real estate companies.
The various roof surfaces encountered on the projects included flat EPDM rubber, pitched standing seam metal and corrugated metal. Several structurally challenging areas required innovative racking and reinforcement solutions designed by SolarFlair to maximize the system sizes. Close coordination with National Grid engineers and construction crews was essential to get these projects energized in a timely manner.
The projects used 10,291 solar panels from Canadian Solar, and 10 Solectria inverters. These projects are monitored using Locus Energy equipment and software packages which allow valuable insight into the operation of the systems for maintenance and troubleshooting purposes.
News item from Solarflair