IBEW adding dual-axis solar trackers, storage to net zero Detroit HQ expansion

Mechatron Solar tracker

The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) Local 58 will add three Mechatron Solar dual-axis solar trackers to expansion of their Corktown, Detroit corporate headquarters, the Zero Net Energy Center (ZNE).

The planned 118.8 kW system, plus energy storage, are being installed by Motor City Electric during Q1 2024 to achieve Net Zero at the facility. IBEW had maxed out solar capacity on the building rooftop but needed more solar to reach Net Zero.

“Space constraints made trackers the most applicable option to complete the IBEW project as a show of Net Zero possibilities. Demonstrating the ability to install solar in a downtown location at this latitude is quite an accomplishment,” said John Jevahirian, VP of Operations, MSS,

The Energy Alliance Group (EAG), along with Michigan Solar Solutions (MSS) and its partners, developed the Mechatron M18KD tracker project as part of the 11,000 square foot facility expansion and are installing three of the gearless dual-axis trackers. These are the first Mechatron solar trackers to be installed in Michigan.

“We are excited to expand the IBEW 58 ZNE Center with the addition of three Mechatron Solar trackers in the parking lot that that will be monitored by a smart system linked to the National Weather Service, allowing for maximum energy production and efficiency,” said Paul Van Oss, Business Manager, IBEW Local 58. IBEW has 820,000 members nationally.

“The facility will have a large Vanadium battery storage system from Invinity Energy Systems which will allow the ZNE Center to store energy and utilize it for operations or discharge to the grid as needed. Essentially, the ZNE Center will be a microgrid,” Van Oss said.

Mechatron’s M18KD tracker can generating 40% more energy than fixed-tilt ground-mount and 20% more than single-axis structures. With a single mast, the tracker also has the smallest ground footprint in the global solar market, ideal for carports and other constrained sites. The Levelized Cost of Energy (LCOE) over the lifetime of the M18KD is estimated as low as $0.015 per kWh, depending on the scale of the installation.

The trackers will enhance the union’s parking lots, generating energy for EV charging. “This is a perfect application to showcase the utilization of the Mechatron tracker for dual-use purposes. With its 15-foot-high single-pedestal design and dual-axis tracking, it allows us to utilize the panel table for covered parking while achieving a higher energy output over typical fixed-tilt solar carports by at least 40%,” said Scott Ringlein, President, EAG.

The Michigan clean energy bill package signed by Governor Gretchen Whitmer seeks to achieve 100% clean energy generation by 2040. With 26% of Michigan’s land being used for agriculture, the need for land dual-use solutions will be critical.

“We are already in discussions to install the Mechatron tracker in agriculture settings in Michigan to combine solar energy with crop production and animal grazing applications. We see an incredible opportunity to integrate the tracker into a wide variety of applications, including its use in our first school installation for our non-profit Kilowatts For A Cause,” Ringlein said.

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