Luther College’s new $1.2 million solar energy field is nearing completion says Steven Peters, president of Dragonfly Solar, the company constructing the array of solar panels which will be the largest single solar energy production facility in the state of Iowa when it goes online in July.
“We finished all the foundation work last week and have started on the solar panels,” Peters reported to college officials this week. He said the trenching for the transmission lines is completed, the lines are run, and construction of the racks that support the solar panels is ahead of schedule.
“The Solar design by Dragonfly includes a few other “firsts” for the State of Iowa” Peters said. “Being located in a potential flood plain, we needed to elevate the entire array above the 100 year high water mark. In addition, knowing Luther’s commitment to sustainability, we wanted to make sure that as much as possible, everything in the project should be recyclable. For example, the vast majority of ground mount systems use concrete to secure the foundations of the array to protect against wind and snow loads. When, and if, the day comes to move these structures, our foundation can be easily extracted from the ground leaving nothing but bare ground, just like when we started.”
Located on a two-acre site along Pole Line Road on the north side of the Luther College campus, the 1,250 separate, SolarWorld USA, solar panels mounted in six rows are the main feature of the 280-kilowatt solar photovoltaic system. The solar field will provide electricity used by Baker Village, an all-electric student housing facility that uses geothermal energy for heating and cooling.
Luther will lease the solar panel array for seven years from Decorah Solar Field, LLC, a local company. The college plans to purchase the solar array after seven years. The solar panels have a 25-year warranty.
The solar field will be connected to Alliant Energy’s distribution line by a half-mile underground transmission line.
The solar panel field is Luther’s latest major project in sustainable methods of operation and energy conservation initiatives that will take the college to its zero carbon footprint goal. Luther plans to reduce its campus carbon footprint by 50 percent by the end of 2015, 70 percent by 2020, and achieve carbon neutral operation by 2030.
An investment in campus buildings energy efficiency in 2004 reduced the college’s carbon footprint 15 percent, and a 1.6-megawatt wind turbine erected in 2011 will bring an additional 15 percent reduction.
The solar panel array will produce a maximum of 280 kilowatts (kW) of electricity while the sun is shining. Factoring in variables such as cloud cover, shadows, and other weather issues, the facility is expected to produce an estimated 355,000 kW hours of electricity annually.
The solar panel array’s electrical power generation will make Baker Village a carbon-neutral facility, said Jim Martin-Schramm, Luther professor of religion and coordinator of the project.
Carbon neutrality has been a strategic goal of the college since June 2007. Carbon neutrality, or having a net zero carbon footprint, refers to achieving net zero greenhouse gas emissions. Produced primarily by the burning of fossil fuels, carbon dioxide emissions are the primary greenhouse gas contributing to global climate change and its increasingly unpredictable weather patterns.
Dragonfly Solar, based in Minneapolis – St. Paul, Minnesota, designed and built the solar facility. Dragonfly specializes in creative and unique leading edge design and build Solar PV and environmental services projects serving a wide array of clients, from Fortune 50 companies, educational and governmental institutions, small businesses, farms and some residential. Company is run and staffed by 20 plus year industry veterans with a common goal to leverage our experience and expertise to leave this world a better place than when we began our journey. And we do this professionally, on time and at or under budget.
To access the complete Luther Press Release on the Luther College website, go here: Luther College Press Release: Luther College $1.2 million Solar Energy Field Nears Completion
For more information regarding the Baker Village Solar Energy Project, visit Luther site at: Luther College – Leading the Way to a Sustainable Future!
For more on Dragonfly Solar, visit our website at: Consistent-Value Driven Partner to a Sustainable Future!