Solar Photovoltaic (PV) is a system which uses one or more solar panels to convert sunlight into electricity. It consists of multiple components, including the photovoltaic modules, mechanical and electrical connections, mountings and means of regulating or modifying the electrical output.
These systems can be tied directly into a specific building, or the electricity can be sold back to the local utility provider offsetting the cost of electricity of the building or generating revenue when the building doesn't require energy use.
The City of Raleigh is finding more and more facilities to incorporate this cost-saving technique to produce and offset energy requirements.
Wilders Grove Solid Waste Services Center
Wilders Grove Solid Waste Services Center's main building located at 630 Beacon Lake Drive has a 50kW system on its roof and the wash bay has an additional 25kW system. Both systems were installed by Sundance Power Systems in 2011.
These combined systems produce approximately 103,500 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, offsetting approximately 12% of the electrical power needed for the facility.
EM Johnson Water Treatment Plant
EM Johnson Water Treatment Plant located at 10301 Falls of Neuse Road has a rooftop solar photovoltaic system. This 250kW solar array on top of the water treatment plant's clear well building produces an estimated 325,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, roughly equivalent to the energy use of 25 homes in North Carolina.
Power generated is returned to the grid under a third-party agreement; the local utility pays the third party (Carolina Solar Energy) for power generated. The City has the option to purchase the system after a period of seven years.
Brentwood Operations Center
There is a 29.61kW solar array on the roof of Brentwood Operations Center located at 3315 Vison Court. The solar array was installed by Southern Energy Management of Morrisville, and is owned by the City of Raleigh.
This project produces about 74,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year, which is equivalent to the energy use of about six North Carolina homes. The renewable energy produced by the solar array is sold to the local utility for distribution to its customers.
Solar bus stop shelters are located at:
- Capital Boulevard and Spring Forest Road
- Capital Boulevard and Calvary Drive
- City's Transit Operations Center
The renewable energy produced from these solar arrays is used by the City for lighting and message signs at the shelters. The bus stops each produce about 6.28kWh of electricity.
Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant
The Neuse River Wastewater Treatment Plant located at 8500 Battle Bridge Road features a 1.3MW ground-mounted solar photovoltaic system. This was a collaborative effort between the City of Raleigh, Southern Energy Management and Nxgen Power. Electricity is sold to the local electric utility under a Power Purchase Agreement.
The Neuse River Solar Farm is expected to generate approximately 1.7 million kWh of electricity per year, roughly the equivalent to the annual energy use of about 130 homes in North Carolina. The project is anticipated to reduce carbon dioxide emissions by more than 1,300 metric tons annually.
Raleigh Convention Center
The Raleigh Convention Center rooftop solar array located at 500 Salisbury Street was completed in June 2012. The 500kW solar array is the second-largest convention center solar array in the nation, covering approximately 60 percent of the roof.
It is expected to produce 750,000 kWh of electricity each year, roughly equivalent to the annual energy use of 70 homes in North Carolina. The project was financed and developed through a lease agreement by the City of Raleigh to a third party, FLS Energy, Inc. and installed by Powerworks Electric Co.
Raleigh Convention Center Solar Charging Station
Using Solar Photovoltaic technology to power an electric vehicle charging station is a simple and efficient idea. Due to exponential growth of electric vehicles, there is a growing need to develop the technology for efficient charging stations.
Two solar-powered electric vehicle charging stations are located at 616 S. Salisbury Street in a City-owned parking lot behind the Raleigh Convention Center. The local electric utility and the City of Raleigh have partnered on a two-year research and development project, a sustainable step forward in the advancement of electric vehicles and how they are powered.
The project includes two charging stations in Raleigh connected to a solar photovoltaic (PV) array and battery system. This joint initiative has several goals:
- Testing the ability to charge plug-in vehicles using electricity generated by the sun and stored in an on-site battery;
- Analyzing the effect on the electric grid from a solar-powered charging station;
- Evaluating electric vehicle battery performance;
- Comparing the side-by-side performance of two solar panel manufacturers; and
- Monitoring the influences of weather on solar power production.
PowerWorks Electric designed and installed the system. Advanced Energy assisted with the design and will manage ongoing data acquisition and evaluation. GE Industrial Solutions provided the charging equipment.
In addition to collecting data, the trial provides citizens and visitors the opportunity to observe both solar power and plug-in electric vehicles up close.
One of the two charging station is dedicated to the local electric utility fleet at all times.
The City has also installed numerous non-solar-powered charging stations throughout Raleigh that are available for public use.
Annie Louise Wilkerson Nature Preserve Park
The City owns a 3.76kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic array at the Annie Louise Wilkerson Nature Preserve Park as an educational resource opportunity. The renewable energy produced by the solar array is sold to the local electric utility for distribution to its customers.
BigBelly Solar Trash Compactors
BigBelly Solar trash compactors and recycling stations are located on several downtown Raleigh streets and parks:
- Raleigh Convention Center
- NC Green Square
- Moore Square
- Glenwood South area
- off Fayetteville Street
- City Plaza
- Hillsborough Street
- Baileywick Park
- John Chavis Memorial Park
These special waste and recycling stations are powered by solar energy and hold five times as much trash as regular containers. An electronic chip installed in the compactor notifies the City's Solid Waste Services Department when it becomes full, saving money, staff time and reducing vehicle emissions.