Repeat solar customers

Stone Brewery’s second rooftop PV system nabs inaugural readers choice project award, Scatec Solar celebrates official opening of historic South African power plant

StoneBrewery IES commercialsolar

Since the sometimes vertiginous growth in the number of commercial solar installations is a relatively recent phenomenon, “repeat customers” are not something commonly seen outside the likes of Walmart, Kohls, and Ikea rocking photovoltaic arrays on their big-box rooftops. Solar Builder magazine has just announced its inaugural readers choice awards for solar projects of the year, and the winner of the rooftop category happens to be an example of a midsize business owner, repeat solar customer, and especially tasty PV application: Stone Brewery Co.

Located in Escondido in northern San Diego County, the Stonies had a 312KW system installed on their brewery roof in 2008, which provides about 25% of the firm’s energy needs, according to Kelly Pickerel’s article. While planning the construction of a new packaging hall, the powers-that-beer decided to add to their renewable footprint and engaged Independent Energy Solutions (IES) to develop, design, and EPC the project. Faced with a challenging structural topography, IES met the challenge, with the resulting 360KW installation (featuring Hyundai modules, Refusol inverters, and Everest mounting) exceeding customer expectations.

“’The roof was designed to handle the weight of the PV system but not the uplift due to wind,’” IES VP Brad Souza told Solar Builder. “’The Everest racking system eliminated uplift concerns. Although the system is not at the optimal tilt, Everest’s low profile allowed us to increase the overall power capacity of PV on the rooftop.’”

“IES went with Everest Solar Systems’ D-Dome mounting system—a double-sided, low-ballast system,” the article continues. “Each row of modules is butted up against the next, eliminating shading between rows. The system is elevated at 10° on both sides, and its aerodynamic optimization enables minimal ballast — thus making it a perfect fit for the packaging hall’s roof. This unique design also helped with covering nearly every section of the roof with panels, something Stone Brewing specifically requested.”

“’The overall PV capacity was increased to maximize the available roof area, meeting [Stone’s] desire for the largest PV system that met their economic requirements,’” Souza noted. “’[IES helped] our customer realize and benefit from the vastly renewable resource which the sun provides [that] has helped lower their operating costs. The east/west facing array design, coupled with a semiballasted substructure, helped utilize every square foot of space on the rooftop.’”

Although the Stone system merits kudos, the 75MW Kalkbult solar project in South Africa is the stuff of history. The large power plant, which began generating electricity in late September and was officially opened last week, is the first of what will be dozens of utility-scale sites benefiting from the government’s REIPPP procurement initiative in the energy-hungry country. PV Tech reports that the Northern Cape Province facility, located cheek by wooly jowl with a sheep farm, will produce about 135 million KWh of power annually for Eskom, the South African utility company.

Scatec Solar developed and built the system, and has a couple of photo galleries on its site featuring various stages of construction and aerial views of the expansive 320,000-panel fixed-mount installation. In a sense, Eskom is a repeat customer of Scatec and its local partners, as the Norwegian firm is well along on two tracker-based PV projects scheduled to come online next year, according to reports: a 40MW plant near Hannover, Northern Cape, and a 75MW farm near Burgersdorp, Eastern Cape.