Solar Projects in Portland

The largest solar project in downtown Portland is a TriMet installation near Portland State using 253 Solar World SW-240 panels to generate 61 kW. It’s located at Tri-Met’s Light Rail terminus next to Broadway.

TriMet solar array

TriMet sought and received a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to build the $1.2 million steel structure surrounding the utility buildings at the MAX turnaround. Incentives and tax credits reduced the $366,000 cost of installing the panels by more than 70 percent, according to TriMet.

TriMet solar array monitoring website

You can monitor Tri-Met’s energy production live. According to TriMet’s Fact Sheet, the next largest system is at PSU’s Lincoln Hall. It provides 54 kilowatts of electricity, or about 2 percent of the building’s energy needs.

Powell solar array

Outside the central business district, Powell’s Books Warehouse in the Northwest industrial area has a 100 kW system using 540 solar panels while Portland Public Schools has several 100+ kW systems throughout eastside and Northeast Portland.

Ikea powered up a nearly 500-kilowatt rooftop solar system atop its Portland store near the airport in the spring of 2012, reports Sustainable Business Portland. It is made up of 2,072 panels. REC Solar designed and installed the system, which Ikea owns and operates.

Portland Public Schools Solar Arrays

Solar4rschools.org has a map of solar projects around Portland.

Portland Solar Projects

Intel has three, 400 kilowatt solar arrays in Hillsboro. Already the nation’s largest buyer of green power, Intel plans to buy 2.5 billion kilowatt hours of renewable energy credits this year, a 75 percent increase over 2010.

Intel solar arrays in Hillsboro

Intel last year completed eight solar energy projects at its plants in four states. Among them were two 400-kilowatt systems atop raised support structures within the parking lots of its Jones Farm and Ronler Acres campuses in Hillsboro. According to data collected by the EPA, Intel used 2.5 billion kilowatt hours of solar and wind power last year, a combination of on-site generation and purchases of green power through a third party. In all, 88 percent of Intel’s energy needs were met by green power.

ProLogis Warehouse

PGE is installing the largest rooftop solar energy project in the Pacific Northwest, in a partnership with U.S. Bank, to install 2.4 megawatts of solar panels atop seven buildings in Portland, Gresham and Clackamas owned by ProLogis, through a newly-created joint venture named SunWay3, under which they will look to secure state and federal energy tax credits to help finance the project. The Energy Trust of Oregon could provide as much as $2.3 million in incentives for the project Denver-based developer and owner of distribution centers. They used Unisolar thin film.

Thin Film array in Amity, Oregon

The largest ground-mounted solar PV installation in the Pacific Northwest is currently a 1.19 MW array near Amity, Oregon, using 5,940 thin film panels from NanosolarEnXco designed and installed the system and the solar array is connected to the Portland General Electric distribution grid using Advanced Energy inverters. Nanosolar uses a semiconductor ink that it claims will enable it to produce solar cells with a basic printing proces, rather than using slow and expensive thin-film deposition processes. The Amity array is said to have an efficiency around 10%.

The largest solar installation in the state will be a 2-megawatt solar array that PacifiCorp will develop in Lake County, Oregon. A motorized tracking system on the 9,000 photovoltaic panels will follow the sun, producing enough electricity to meet the annual needs of about 400 average residential customers. It will count toward the utilities obligations to produce 25 percent of its power from renewable sources by 2025 under the state’s renewable portfolio standard.
Advanced Energy Systems[1] is the leading commercial solar integrator in Oregon, with commercial solar energy systems for Lewis and Clark College, ODOT, Kettle Foods, Pepsi-Cola, and other Oregon businesses.

Urban solar systems – with lots of grid power available – often skip expensive and troublesome battery storage. Power companies, provided with incentives to get off dirty coal, are willing to buy wind and solar generated power.

Oregon Solar Highway project by I-5 and 217

The nation’s first Solar Highway project[2] (right) started feeding electricity into Portland’s electricity grid on Dec. 19, 2008. PGE’s “Oregon Solar Highway”[3] is a 100kW system that contains about 8,000 square feet of solar panels extending about the length of two football fields.

The “Solar Highway” installation incorporates a SolarWorld PV array and the Solar Energy Grid Integration Systems[4] (SEGIS), a DOE program to develop photovoltaic (PV) systems that seamlessly integrate into the distribution and transmission grid. The site doesn’t store electricity – it just sells “green power” back to PGE. The total budget of that project was about $1.3 million, with ODOT buying the electricity at the same rate it would otherwise pay PGE for power, now about $0.06 per kilowatt-hour (pdf).

The “largest solar highway project in the nation” is now expected to be built along northbound Interstate 5 just south of Wilsonville. According to ODOT, it will produce approximately 1.9 million kilowatt-hours of renewable energy each year using thin film panels. That’s more than ten times the power of the 594 Solar World panels that generate some 130,000 kilowatt-hours annually at the first Solar Highway project.

The 1.75 megawatt solar array South of Wilsonville is claimed to be the largest (solar highway) installation in the world, but ODOT will continue to add more solar to its energy supply through its solar highway program, including adding 150 kilowatts to the demonstration project site, a 3 megawatt project on I-205 at an ODOT Maintenance storage, and developing a project with PacifiCorp near Medford.

West Linn Solar Highway Project

The proposed 3-megawatt (MW) West Linn Solar Highway project (above) would consist of the installation of approximately 13,000 230-watt PV modules and ten 260-kilowatt (kW) inverters pdf.

SunWize Systems installed a roof-mounted solar project at the Benton County Fairgrounds in Corvallis, the second largest solar installation in Benton County. An American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant of $491,000 from the DOE helped fund the 70 kW solar electric system. The panels are installed on the roof of a 25’ x 30’ educational facility, with the system’s electrical equipment visible behind glass windows.

Outback Solar, located on 640 acres in Lake County on a former military radar based in Christmas Valley (below), will be the largest solar facility in the state of Oregon.

Oregon's Largest Solar installation in Christmas Valley

Element Power, a Portland-based company, obtained a conditional use permit from Lake County to build their 12-megawatt (MW) facility on approximately 100 acres of private land. It should be completed by the middle of 2011 and will tap into existing infrastructure, including high voltage transmission lines and access roads.

Largest rooftop solar installation by Portland-based Solar Nation and Solar World

The largest rooftop solar energy system in the nation was designed and installed by Portland-based Solar Nation (left) using solar panels made by SolarWorld in Hillsboro.

The 4.26-megawatt system will produce more than 5 million kilowatt hours annually, using 17,745 solar panels. The installation will create an estimated energy savings of $200,000 per year, with a payback period of seven years. Solar Nation is now expected to move much of their operation to New Jersey where electricity runs $.30 a kW hour.

Teanaway Solar Reserve[5] announced plans for a 75-megawatt plant made up of 400,000 photovoltaic panels[6], 4 miles North of Cle Elum, Washington[7], near Ellensburg, although not much has been heard about those plans recently.
The PUC’s Solar Pilot Program enables customers who install photovoltaic systems to receive a monthly check from their utility for the energy generated by the solar system based on the incentive rate minus the rate they currently pay. Plus, their overall electric bill is reduced. The size of the solar system cannot be greater than 90 percent of historical energy usage for a home or business. Total program capacity for the four-year Pilot Project is 25 megawatts (MW). Portland General Electric has been allocated 14.9 MW, Pacific Power & Light 9.8 MW.

Portland has partnered with Solar America Communities and started their own, “Solar Now!” organization. People in the community are volunteering their time to help bring solar into as many homes as possible. Solarize Portland provides information to Portland residents on who to hire, what to buy, and what to budget. Portland Water Bureau Meter Shop has a 12 KW solar array, the largest system entirely owned by the City of Portland.
Portland’s Climate Action Plan includes a directive to purchase or generate 100 percent of electricity for city operations from renewable sources, with at least 15 percent of that generated on-site or in-district using renewable energy sources such as solar and bio gas.

The City of Portland’s Solar America Cities project will pursue solar market transformation for Portland residents, businesses, and city operations. Project partners work with other city bureaus to streamline city-level regulations for contractors, homeowners, and businesses. The city will use its influence as a regulator, educator, and motivator to reach the larger regional community.

Portland has partnered with Solar America Communities and started their own, “Solar Now!” organization. People in the community are volunteering their time to help bring solar into as many homes as possible. Solarize Portland provides information to Portland residents on who to hire, what to buy, and what to budget.

Portland Water Bureau Meter Shop has a 12 KW solar array, the largest system entirely owned by the City of Portland. Portland’s solar-powered parking meters were supposed to lower maintenance costs of jammed coin operated meters while maximizing income. Solar panels were installed on the south façade and roof of Brewery Blocks Building #4 in Portland’s Pearl District.

Vernier Software produces 19,000 KW hours each year and helps to educate the community about solar energy through their website www.vernier.com/solar. Lucky Labrador Brewing installed solar panels to heat the water during the brewing process for a total cost of $4,460 after all of the tax credits. Now they have broken even with their install costs and are saving an additional $1,560 per year in gas costs.

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