NW Wind & Solar Featured in Solar Pro Magazine for Seattle Aquarium Solar Array

Read the article about this project from Feb 2014's Connect!

Seattle Aquarium - 49.4kW Solar PV Installation

The Seattle Aquarium's PV array is the largest aquarium solar installation on the West Coast. The project is a partnership between the Aquarium and Seattle City Light and is the second solar project in their Community Solar program. NW Wind & Solar, a division of SME Inc. of Seattle designed and installed the PV array on historic Pier 59.

Project Details

247-PV modules and 10-string inverters, all Made in Washington, make this an all around local community project that qualifies for Washington’s highest production incentive rates available.

The 200 watt Cascade Series solar modules are manufactured by Silicon Energy in Marysville, as were the two SiE3840 and eight SiE5300 solar inverters. Silicon Energy produces the most durable glass on glass PV modules available making them an excellent application for this marine installation. Further, only marine grade hardware, conduit, wire management and stainless steel rooftop junction boxes were used to guarantee a corrosion resistant lifetime installation maximizing production for all stake holders.

The Seattle Aquarium's racking assembly required 350 stainless lag bolts that were two inches longer than the largest standard 12-inch bolts. The custom lag bolts were machined specifically for this project. NW Wind & Solar, to assure that the bolts would be perfectly perpendicular with the roof, created templates, or jigs, to guide our drill bits for exact placement every time and enhanced installation efficiency.

Part of this project is to generate electricity for the Aquarium and the other part is for Seattle City Light's (SCL) Community Solar Project. This community project allows SCL's utility customers, who can't purchase their own PV system (i.e. renters), or those who simply want to support the growth of solar, and want to receive the cost benefit of renewable energy. There were 125 solar units available for SCL customers at a cost of $150 each – all sold and in record time. Participants will receive credits on their utility bills through 2019.

Minimum Import Relay?

The Seattle Aquarium is located on Seattle City Light's sensitive downtown grid network. Back-feeding onsite generation onto the utility grid on this project became prohibited. As a solution, NW Wind & Solar coordinated with Seattle City Light and designed a minimum import relay scheme. This first of its kind solution for solar PV in SCL's service territory monitors onsite load and if the electrical consumption reaches a minimum value an engineered relay communicates with a set of contactors to physically shut the PV system down and eliminate potential for Net Metering.

Viewing Energy Production

The energy production from the Aquarium’s solar system can be tracked in real time with a Deck Monitoring system.

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