Energy efficiency and renewable energy company Ameresco has broken ground on a solar array project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility (NASA WFF) in Wallops Island, Virginia. The savings-funded solar renewable energy project will help NASA WFF to meet its ambitious energy-savings and sustainability goals.
Designed to be completed in two phases, the 4.3-MWdc project will meet at least 80% of the site’s electrical consumption once complete. The project will include ground-mounted solar panels installed near NASA WFF’s airfield as well as carport-canopy panels.
“This is a significant project for Wallops because it will create a renewable source of energy for our facility in the near-term, while also laying the foundation for the energy generated onsite to contribute to our region’s existing energy grid in the future,” said Dave Pierce, Wallops Flight Facility director. “The installation of a solar field in such close proximity to a critical airspace is a rarity, and our project serves as a model to other similar facilities that it is possible to install a meaningful solar farm that will greatly reduce carbon output, even with limited real estate.”
It includes $14 million in renewable energy and infrastructure improvements and will provide more than $537,000 in first-year energy cost savings; in future years, solar output combined with energy conservation measures are expected to allow for $3.1 million in energy cost savings.
The partnership between NASA WFF and Ameresco is an energy savings performance contract (ESPC), meaning the space agency will accrue no upfront costs. Instead, through the ESPC, NASA WFF will fund the project through energy cost savings derived from the solar installation.
“We’re fortunate to have enjoyed a long history working with NASA via the ESPC model,” said Nicole Bulgarino, executive VP of federal solutions at Ameresco. “NASA has been an engaged and creative collaborator; we work together to develop innovative projects that will positively influence NASA facilities as well as their surrounding communities. We congratulate NASA WFF on embarking on a solar initiative that other flight facilities will strive to emulate.”
News item from Ameresco