Conergy Builds 1.5-MW Solar Array on Former California Landfill

Good news for residents of Sacramento. Conergy, one of the world’s largest downstream solar companies, recently completed a 1.5-MW solar installation on Sutter’s Landing Park, a regional recreation area in Sacramento, Calif. The solar installation will produce approximately 2,300 megawatts hours of solar energy annually for the Sacramento Municipal Utility District (SMUD), which will be used for residential and commercial business consumption.

conergy_logo“Sutter’s Landing solar installation will provide power directly into the Sacramento grid,” said Anthony Fotopoulos, CEO of Conergy Americas. “It creates a virtual net metering situation for residents and businesses so they can receive power generated by solar energy even if they aren’t able to install their own solar power system.”

Championed by City of Sacramento Councilman Steve Cohn and the Sacramento Recycling and Solid Waste Division, the Sutter’s Landing Regional Park and solar installation are built atop a former landfill that was previously deemed un-useable. Conergy was awarded the project after it worked with SMUD, California Energy Commission and the U.S. Department of Energy to design a solar power system that, in addition to producing clean power, provided shade and amenities to park-goers, worked around natural wildlife habitats, and met strict requirements and guidelines that come with building on a closed landfill.

The new solar installation offers a covered carport over the main parking area and shaded seating areas for dog park users. In addition, planned signage will provide education about the benefits of clean solar energy production and the current effects of global warming.

While the solar installation brings energy and sun protection to Sacramento residents, it presented design and construction challenges. The landfill, closed nearly 15 years, required a flexible system that could move with the ever shifting and settling ground. An innovative “earth screw” ballast system – tightly sealed to avoid seepage – was used to support the solar modules, eliminating the need for heavy concrete footings, which could have damaged the landfill cap. In addition, the land is home to the endangered valley elderberry longhorn beetle, and the system had to be designed and built around the bushes that protect the beetle.

“By providing shade for park users and clean energy for the rest of us, this solar project is a perfect match for Sutter’s Landing Park,” said Cohn. “Conergy also understood the necessity of preserving the elderberry beetle’s habitat onsite and graciously worked with stakeholders to accommodate and protect this sensitive habitat throughout all phases of the project.”

At peak operation, the solar installation is expected to reduce CO2 emissions by 3.5 million pounds annually and greenhouse gas emissions equal to removing 350 passenger vehicles from the road for a year. Revenue produced from the power generated for and consumed by residents and businesses will be re-invested to fund park preservation and maintenance.

“Sutter’s Landing is an important part of SMUD’s effort to add community-scale solar generation to the electric grid without compromising reliability,” said Rob Kerth, SMUD Ward 5 director. “The real beauty of this project, from SMUD’s standpoint, is that it supports locally generated renewable power, just a stone’s throw away from some of our heaviest energy users.”

Conergy was responsible for the development, engineering, procurement and construction of the Sutter’s Landing solar installation and will provide operations and on-going maintenance. Partial funding for the project was provided by California Energy Commission, SMUD, and U.S. Department of Energy’s Community Renewable Energy Deployment program. Washington Gas Energy Systems is the financer and owner/operator of the Sutter’s Landing solar installation.

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