12 July 2012
Intersolar North America 2012, taking place this week at the Moscone Centre in San Francisco, California, US, has named the winners of the first annual Intersolar Award for solar projects in North America. The winners are: Enerworks Inc.'s Oxford Gardens Solar Project (Canada); Vanir Energy LLC's William G. White Jr. Family YMCA (US); and ESA Renewables LLC's Martins Creek Elementary School Solar PV Project (US).
The Intersolar Award recognizes projects, both large and small, which utilize advanced technology, incorporate aesthetic and architectural concepts and exemplify outstanding services and products. The new solar project category, open to exhibitors at Intersolar North America 2012, Intersolar Europe 2012, Intersolar China 2011 and Intersolar India 2011, recognizes installations demonstrating strong innovation in three fields: solar building; industrial and commercial use; and utility-scale projects. All nine award nominees delivered presentations that provided attendees with an overview of their projects. The three winners represent innovation in terms of system design, technology and project financing.
• Enerworks' Oxford Gardens Solar Project in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada harnesses the sun on a retirement community. This 5594 square-foot (ft2), or ~520 square-metre (m2), system, which produces 3.64 kilowatt-hours (kWh)/ft2 per day, is a large solar thermal heating and cooling project. The installation will save Oxford Gardens up to 60% of its heating costs and 40% of its cooling costs. Its compact, space-saving features and design attuned to the cold climate differentiates this project.
• ESA Renewables' Martins Creek Elementary School installation in Murphy, North Carolina (US) is one of the largest solar farms on school grounds in the US at 999 kilowatts (kW). The system, which covers 5 acres (~2 hectares), benefits not only the elementary school but the surrounding community as well. The system produces 20% more energy than initially projected: 1.3 million kWh of electricity, or the power needed by 150 average-size homes. The community benefits through the system's educational monitoring system, as well as through the rural jobs generated by the project.
• Vanir Energy's solar system at the William G. White Jr., Family YMCA in Winston-Salem, North Carolina (US) utilized a power purchase agreement (PPA) to help the non-profit institution realize more than $3 million (USD) in revenue for the local economy and generate more than 30 jobs. The 10,643 ft2 (~989 m2) system, which produces 25,000 therms a year, saves close to 2.63 million pounds of carbon-dioxide (CO2) emissions.
In recent years, the US has been a hotbed of innovation for large utility-scale PV as solar developers looked to capitalize on financing mechanisms that support larger projects and were eager to utilize the vast lands available in the west. In addition, the rise of solar as a service through both leasing and PPAs is also reinvigorating the distributed generation market for residential and small commercial projects. Subsequently, the North American market has seen a proliferation of diverse projects finely tuned to their owner and location.
The new Intersolar Award solar project category was developed to recognize the exceptional solar projects in North America.