PV Lab: Solar at Cascade's North Plant
Cascade Renewable Energy (CRE) began providing solar products and services to customers about two years ago. Since then, CRE has successfully installed nearly 500 kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in Michigan, covering over a 125,000 sq. ft. area. These systems provide hundreds of thousands of kWhs of energy every year. One of the many CRE residential and commercial installations includes the PV system, which was installed on top of the North Plant in 2010.
While the previous solar project installations provided CRE with numerous learning opportunities, the system on top of the North Plant, installed as an experiment, presents a unique experiential journey. This 150kW system incorporates three different solar modules in three different mounting combinations. These combinations are then merged with two inverter types to form seven unique photovoltaic system designs. Historical and real-time outputs from the designs are analyzed to identify the best system for different customer situations. All of that technical jargon may seem unintelligible but the purpose is meaningful.
The information gleaned from this experiment will help CRE create tremendous value to their distributor network and their customer base. It will also help to position CRE as the most advanced integrator in Michigan, while increasing their competitiveness across the U.S.
Michigan solar rebates and solar incentives are available for the North Plant system for the next 12 years. Rebates and benefits include a commercial Feed-In-Tariff (FIT). This amounts to more than 37.5 cents/ kWh during the eligible time period. Applying these rebates and benefits, the system, which has a lifespan of more than 25 years, can potentially pay for itself in less than ten years.
There are many reasons that the North Plant “solar system” is certainly a win-win-win for customers, distributors and the environment. The North Plant system will also help Cascade Engineering assist the state of Michigan as it moves toward its Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of producing 10 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2015.
Published in Cascade Engineering, Inc.'s 2010 Triple Bottom Line Report