Photovoltaic solar arrays generate excitement at Schneider Electric’s Palatine headquarters
5 photovoltaic project tips follow
Vincent Throop, senior application engineer, North American Operating Division, Schneider Electric, served as project manager for the installation. He gave some friendly advice during the first hour of power:
1. Contact planning and zoning and local electric utility representatives first. Turns out this was the first such project in the area, so everyone was breaking new ground.
2. Produce renderings of the project early on to help educate all involved.
Schneider Electric, a global specialist in energy management, announced the unveiling of the largest corporate solar array installation in Illinois history. The array will reduce electric usage at its North America headquarters facility by an estimated 2%-3% annually, company officials said, as they powered up the installation on a below-freezing Dec. 10.
See below for more photos and diagrams. Photo gallery with 10 more Schneider Electric solar project images added Dec. 11.
Chris Curtis, CEO of Schneider Electric’s Buildings and Power North America business, said the installation "showcases how the use of energy efficient and renewable solutions together play key roles in solving our energy dilemma," said Curtis. "We hope to serve as an inspiration and resource for other businesses as the demand for sustainable energy continues to grow."
Curtis said the installation is part of Schneider Electric’s commitment to help make people make the most of their energy. The photovoltaic (PV) solar project includes a special "flower" type mounting system, consisting of 232 modules with 29 pole supports, solar panels, Schneider Electric Xantrex inverter, Schneider Electric metering and monitoring equipment, and all the electric wiring needed to harness the power. The PV system has a rated output of 60.5 kW which will vary according to sun angle, time of year, and weather conditions, and is designed to withstand high winds and snow.
An educational "Green display" using Schneider Electric’s PowerLogic monitoring and metering systems is part of the installation. This display is located inside the facility and educates users and visitors by displaying real time information about current energy generated, usage, and the amount of CO2 emissions reduction.
Payback: 10 years
Valued at $750,000, the installation qualified for a 30 percent federal tax credit, an accelerated federal depreciation schedule (MACRS), a state incentive of $3.25 per dc watt, and the sale of Renewable Energy Credits (RECs). The system – which uses Schneider Electric’s Xantrex Inverter to convert the solar power into energy – has an expected life of 40-years, and Schneider Electric estimates a 10-year payback.
The installation will "build on our history of working with large scale PV systems," said Curtis. "Our goal is to demonstrate to Schneider Electric customers our ability to safely control, meter, and transform dc power using the inverter produced by our Renewable Energies division and PMO metering division."
During the six months of construction, Schneider Electric worked with the Village of Palatine to amend the zoning and permitting process to include solar projects. The Palatine building was identified as the best site within the company to install the system based on the rebates and incentives available in the region. The installation precedes the facility’s LEED certification, which is being actively pursued for 2010.
Schneider Electric expressed pride in being able to consult with companies seeking clear plans to manage energy, increase energy efficiency, and meet demands for renewable energy. James Schwantz, mayor of Palatine, IL, and other local government officials and dignitaries attended the renewable project launch, among others.
Key project points: cost, lifecycle
– While the project would cost others about $750,000, Schneider Electric’s cost was about $550,000 (with company discount on switchgear, inverter, and related equipment). With local and federal incentives, payback is estimated at 10 years.
– Panels, with a 25 year warranty, are expected to last about 40 years. Total output is 60.5 kW dc or 50.1 kW ac, depending on angle and strength of sunlight.
– The inverter converts power from dc to ac and ensure optimal use. No electricity is expected to flow beyond the building, as it will provide, at most 3% of the all-electric facility’s needs; Commonwealth Edison representatives were on hand to help ensure safe startup. Inverter photo was taken during construction.
– Interactive touchscreen in the Schneider Electric cafeteria shows the carbon offset the project provides cumulative tally of environmental benefits, as this sample screen shows. Annual carbon offset is estimated at 89,166 lb.
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– Edited by Mark T. Hoske, editor in chief, Control Engineering , www.controleng.com