Ameresco, Inc., an energy efficiency and renewable energy company, announced that it has broken ground on a solar array project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility (NASA WFF) in Wallops Island, Virginia. The savings-funded solar renewable energy project will help NASA WFF to meet its ambitious energy-savings and sustainability goals.
Designed to be completed in two phases, the project will meet at least 80% of the site’s electrical consumption once complete. Given its size and scope, the solar installation is expected to reduce the facility’s carbon output by more than 4,310 metric tons per year. This is the equivalent of canceling the CO2 emissions from 2,756 homes’ electricity usage over a one-year period.
The project will include ground-mounted solar panels installed near NASA WFF’s airfield as well as carport-canopy panels.
The project includes $14 million in renewable energy and infrastructure improvements. It will provide more than $537,000 in first-year energy cost savings; in future years, solar output combined with energy conservation measures are expected to allow for $3.1 million in energy cost savings. Because the partnership between NASA WFF and Ameresco is an energy savings performance contract (ESPC), NASA WFF will accrue no upfront costs. Instead, through the ESPC, NASA WFF will fund the project through energy cost savings derived from the solar installation.
“This is a significant project for Wallops because it will create a renewable source of energy for our facility in the near-term, while also laying the foundation for the energy generated onsite to contribute to our region’s existing energy grid in the future,” said Dave Pierce, Wallops Flight Facility Director. “The installation of a solar field in such close proximity to a critical airspace is a rarity, and our project serves as a model to other similar facilities that it is possible to install a meaningful solar farm that will greatly reduce carbon output, even with limited real estate.”