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04/05/2012 04:26 PM     print story email story  

Largest US Rooftop Solar System is in New Jersey

SustainableBusiness.com News

Imagine 27,526 solar panels sitting on one roof - that's what's on the largest solar rooftop system in the US, which came online last fall in New Jersey.

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The Riverside Renewable Energy solar PV system supplies 80% of the electricity consumed by the largest refrigerated warehouse on the East Coast. The warehouse operates around the clock and consumes lots of electricity servicing food importers.

At an impressive 9 megawatts (MW), the system covers 1.1 million square foot of rooftop at the Gloucester Marine Terminal, generating enough energy to power 1500 homes. It cost $42 million and used SunPower's panels. 200 solar jobs were created to build the project.

Federal and state incentives supported the project - the project received an $11 million federal investment tax rebate under the now expired Section 1603 program, and credits from New Jersey's Solar Renewable Energy Credit.

Also in New Jersey, Toys 'R' Us previously held the top spot for the largest rooftop solar plant in the US at its distribution center. The 5.38 MW is under construction. 

In related news, construction of the 127 MW Arlington Valley Solar Energy II Project in Arizona begins next month. The $550 million project, which comes online next year, will send power to 53,000 California homes. San Diego Gas & Electric is buying all the electricity under a 25-year power purchase agreement.

That pales in comparison to the 688 MW solar project in Chile. Spain-based Ingenostrum plans to build six solar plants for $1.9 billion. The company, which operates mostly in Spain and Italy, is also considering building wind farms and biomass plants in Chile.

And a 450 MW project in Baja, Mexico starts construction later this year. It's being developed in 50 MW tranches by SolMex Energy using SolFocus concentrating PV panels. It's SolFocus's biggest sale so far. Although it hasn't found financing yet, the plan includes a 100 MW factory that would make the solar panels. 

SolFocus's panels are also being used for a 1 MW project that will power a factory.

Mexico, which has no incentives for renewables, has just 6 MW installed, mostly on rooftops. But electricity prices are so volatile (there's just one utility) that solar is attractive.



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