My Hunger Games Mockingjay Pt.1 title and dialog morphification is in reference to a commercial PV array in the process of completion, only a quarter mile down the road from the Central Columbia School District, which I wrote about in August last year:
Bloomsburg Carpet Industries, Inc. is installing a rather large solar PV array on multiple building roofs. The company noted in its ‘about us’ profile:
“The Bloomsburg Carpet mill was founded in 1976 by Raymond P. Habib along with twelve experienced employees dedicated to maintaining the craft of sustainable residential and commercial carpet weaving. Today, over 45 years later, Bloomsburg Carpet Industries’ manufacturing integrity is maintained & strengthened by the leadership of Raymond’s son, Thomas Habib. Bloomsburg Carpet continues to grow and expand but their commitment to quality, luxurious, sustainable carpets remains strong as ever.”
The new Bloomsburg Carpet Industries array is 1.15 megawatts in size, comprising of 2954 Trina solar panels, around 400W each. They use string inverters as opposed to micro-inverters which are really for installs where significant shading is an issue over the year. Their location is pretty much wide open. CCSD also used high voltage string inverters as well. The expected yearly output of the array is 1.8 gigawatt-hours a year. That translates to a ratio of 1.56 megawatt-hours (MWH) of yearly generation for each KW of installed capacity, which is an extremely good ratio and overall efficiency for a static array (non-tracking) in this geographic location.
As you can see in the three ground photos, the arrays are still in the final stages (follow the cones).
The project, which is expected to be complete in February of 2023, was conceived in January of 2021, putting the project in the two-year time frame. As business projects of that size go, not too shabby.
Adam J Bowman, the CFO for Bloomsburg Carpet Industries, noted the financial incentives from three key entities, Federal ITC, PPL rebates, and USDA Reap grants, as strong motivations for the projects undertaking. Adam himself is a renewable energy proponent, having solar on his own personal residence. But even if he wasn’t, the current financial environment is just too good to bypass for the very brief ROIs (sub 5 years) that are possible when such an assembly of incentives is present. He often wonders why more people and businesses are not taking advantage of the current financial benefits that are ripe for the picking at this juncture.
In addition to those three main financial drivers, the PA SRECs (Solar Renewable Energy Credits) generated month to month, at current PA SREC pricing ($42/SREC), should deliver around $76,000 a year. Energy-wise, one SREC equals 1 MWH. So, 1,800 MWHs/yr. x $42 = ~$76,000. Not a landslide amount, but far from chump change either. And then of course there is the simple reduction in your direct electric bill. The exact way all these “perks” flow between residential entities vs business entities varies. But all in all, the results are very similar.
Despite the visual proximity of the CCSD and Bloomsburg Carpet Industry projects, their “timed appearance” is more coincidence, motivated by the current financial incentives and attention to renewable energy that is available now. That being said, the more solar PV and solar thermal that people see being utilized in the areas around them, the more present it is in those people minds when the decisions of energy direction are on the table. In short, it promotes and spreads.
As stated in a SEIA summary paragraph from its website, solar growth is accelerating upwards:
“The U.S. installed 4.6 gigawatts (GWdc) of solar PV capacity in Q3 2022 to reach 135.7 GWdc of total installed capacity, enough to power 24 million American homes. Solar has accounted for 45% of all new electricity-generating capacity added in the U.S. through the first three quarters of the year. Residential solar had another record quarter with 1.57 GWdc installed. Utility-scale solar installations reached 2.5 GW dc…”
The below Google Earth screen capture reminds me of a Game of Dots. You stare with the matrix of dots, looking for dots that have not been connected by a horizontal or vertical lines. Sometimes it’s hard to find a pair, but in reality, the longer and harder you look, the more pairs of dots you find. The harder and longer you look at the photo, the more PV arrays keeping popping up, until you realize that there are an amazing number of arrays in this small area. This particular one is of a New Orleans, LA, neighborhood.
Solar in central PA has not reached that density yet, but it is well on the way. Every time I drive around on a daily basis, I see more and more arrays, sometimes in unexpected places. It’s like a brush fire. It just keeps spreading and spreading. Only in this case, it is a fire we desperately need and is overdue.
Seeing a big PV array (honestly small also) always brings a big smile to me. It represents yet another individual or business that sees the light of day in Renewable Energy and its many tentacled connections to our world’s betterment.
By William H Fitch III, WeAreSolar.com
WeAreSolar.com is a multi-decade company in solar and renewable energy consulting and distribution, as well as some direct installations. He is a current ASES member and has various other renewable energy affiliations. He has been “into” solar and renewable energy since the 1970s in the solar thermal area — everything from solar cookers to super-insulated houses to hot air and liquid thermal systems, flat plates, and evacuated tubes. William’s own residence generates around 20 megawatt-hours a year of PV electricity, and it also includes geothermal and solar thermal systems. He and his wife drive all-electric cars and use all-electric yard tools. No gasoline.
Professionally, William spent approximately 40 years in I.T. — from software coding to systems design to full network hardware installations in multiple commercial environments and major corporations.
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