SolarWorld Heightens Profile in Massachusetts’ Rising Solar Market

An 8-acre solar installation featuring high-performance solar panels from SolarWorld will go online this fall at Berkshire School, a private boarding high school in Sheffield, Mass. The 2-MW system is the largest solar installation for a private school in New England. It is also the latest of three significant Massachusetts solar projects totaling more than 7 MW to harness SolarWorld technology in the state’s fast-growing solar market.

Berkshire School's 2-MW solar system, one of several recent projects in Massachusetts to feature high-performance SolarWorld solar panels, offsets 45 percent of the school's energy consumption.

Berkshire School’s ground-mounted system is composed of 8,332 of SolarWorld’s crystalline silicon solar panels; 8,020 are installed on fixed racking and 312 on a solar-tracking system. The installation was realized by solar developer PowerPlay Solar of Connecticut and turnkey engineering, procurement and construction contractor Spire Corp. of Massachusetts. In addition to generating about 45 percent of the school’s energy needs, the system will also serve as a cutting-edge educational resource for the study of photovoltaics and other renewable-energy technologies.

“Berkshire School has made an impressive investment in the goals and education of sustainability,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas. “The project heads in the direction that Massachusetts officials had in mind when they enacted ambitious solar legislation last year. Set against the picturesque backdrop of the Berkshire Mountains, the project is emblematic of the Bay State’s embrace of renewable energy.”

In 2010, Massachusetts, a state burdened with some of the nation’s highest electricity rates, implemented a renewable energy portfolio standard to stimulate solar deployment. The state also created a market for trading solar renewable energy credits, certificates representing the environmental, social and health attributes of electricity generated from solar energy.

Since that time, SolarWorld has supplied Spire Corp. installations for BJ’s Wholesale Club totaling about 1.6 MW. Spread across four of the big-box retailer’s stores, the project included two systems in Leominster and South Attleboro, Mass., totaling 652 kW.

A 4.5-MW system composed of 18,400 SolarWorld panels is under construction in Holyoke, Mass. Constellation Energy is building the system, which it will own and operate, on two sites near city-owned electrical distribution facilities. Holyoke Gas & Electric will buy all of the solar system’s electrical output under a 20-year power purchase agreement. State officials have cited the installation as a high-merit example of projects springing up across Massachusetts in response to the Bay State’s renewable portfolio standard mandate to install 400 MW of solar power generating capacity by 2020.

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