people installing solar panels on the roof of a company

New Jersey's Largest Community Solar Project to Sit on Industrial Roofs

Aniket

Written by qualified solar engineer Aniket on September 7, 2020

The concept of community solar farms is becoming increasingly more popular in recent years. An interesting story in this regard is that of New Jersey’s community solar plants. The unique thing about these community solar plants is that they will not take up public land. Instead, the plants will be installed on New Jersey’s industrial rooftops.

New Jersey has plenty of industrial facilities with open rooftops that are perfectly suited for solar PV plants. As a part of the New Jersey Community Solar Energy Pilot Program, a total of 20.35MW will go on the roofs as part of the first round.

A Joint Effort

In a first for New Jersey, the entire capacity of the plant will not be installed at a single location on the ground. It will be installed on 4 large industrial rooftops, located in Perth Amboy, Teterboro and Woodridge.

Industrial Rooftops That Will Host the Community Solar Plants

Industrial Rooftops That Will Host the Community Solar Plants (Source – NJBiz)

At 20.35 MW, the project will cover 26% of the first-round capacity. Once installed, the solar panels will cover a million square feet spanning across the multiple roofs. The project has been awarded by the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to Solar Landscape. The industrial buildings which will host the solar plants are owned by Duke Realty.

Over half (51%) of the energy generated from the PV plants will be sold to low and moderate-income households. The plants will generate 250 million kWh over 20 years and will also prevent a staggering 9000 tons of carbon emissions from being added to the atmosphere.

Interestingly, it is not just sustainable energy that will be brought to the residents through this partnership. Developer Solar Landscape will provide solar energy job training and professional certifications to individuals from these communities, as a part of its operations. This makes the initiative even more ‘community centered’ in its approach. As Duke Realty’s Megan Basore puts it – “We want to have a positive impact on the communities we serve and the world in which we live.”

About the New Jersey Clean Energy Program

Concept of New Jersey Clean Energy Program’s Community Solar

Concept of New Jersey Clean Energy Program’s Community Solar (Source – NJ Clean Energy)

As stated before, the concept of microgrids and community solar is becoming more and more relevant in the recent times. The greatest benefit of community solar plants is that domestic users of electricity can consume solar energy without installing panels on their roofs. For consumers who do not have sufficient roof space or the correct orientation/shade free areas, community solar is a boon.

The New Jersey Board of Public Utilities (NJ BPU) identified this benefit and launched a 3-year pilot program titled ‘New Jersey Clean Energy Program’ in early 2019. By the end of the year, the board had granted conditional approvals to 45 applications of community solar projects for the program’s year 1.

As mentioned earlier, the differentiating factor is that this solar program will focus on utilizing large rooftop spaces instead of ground areas. The program’s brochure states that ‘Community solar encourages local clean energy development that is tied to the communities without compromising the preservation of open space or protected lands in New Jersey.’

There are a few conditions to which projects can apply for the program, as follows:

  1. Project size cannot be larger than 5 MW
  2. Each project must have minimum of 10 subscribers
  3. No more than 250 subscribers per MW

As NJ’s community solar program moves forward and experiences success, we expect more and more projects as such to come up all over the country in the coming years.

References

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