RWE Schott Solar Project for Coast Guard Facility

After a successful run with their solar-powered navigation buoys, the U.S. Coast Guard brought ashore the same renewable energy technology to power their training center in Petaluma California.

Rocklin, California – June 9, 2004 [] The facility now boasts a 125 kW solar photovoltaic (PV) array, designed and installed by RWE Schott Solar, expected to generate approximately 200,000 kWhs of electricity per year. Energy that would otherwise have to be purchased from the area’s regional utility and produced with fossil fuels. By producing some of its energy on-site, the 800-acre Coast Guard Training Center (TRACEN) in Northern California expects to lower its power bill without compromising its use of a wide range of essential facilities and machinery. Formerly an Army Communications Station, the base features over 200 buildings, including more than 200,000 square-feet of training facilities, a fully staffed medical clinic, a chapel, facilities for police and fire protection, as well as other housing and support facilities. “The training center is essentially a small town with crucial energy demands, given the importance of the Coast Guard’s missions,” said Tony VanWinden, chief of engineering services at the Coast Guard’s Training Center in Petaluma. “We found ways to conserve energy, but conservation alone was not the complete remedy. So, we evaluated proven renewable energy solutions that the Coast Guard had successfully used in other situations and concluded that PV technology is a great way to save critical dollars on a larger scale. It also send the right message about the importance clean renewable energy in addition to its reliability. “Moreover, it demonstrates to hundreds of permanent staff, and to the thousands of students and visitors who come here each year, that we are committed to using clean and sustainable energy wherever possible,” VanWinden said. RSS installed its 125 kW system using three separate arrays. One system rests on the sloped roof of the base’s Horsley Hall Barracks with two sub-arrays. Electrically connected but physically separate, the sub-arrays feed a common DC disconnect, inverter and transformer. Two additional systems are affixed to the flat roof of the Dennis R. Bauer training building. A common enclosure joins both systems and feeds their collective power output into a main electrical panel. However, each operates independently and can be shut down or started separately from the other. The flat-roof-mounted systems use the RSS SunRoof FS mounting platform, which requires no roof penetrations or ballasting and ensures that SunRoof FS PV modules are secured in a fixed position with a 5-degree tilt angle. Linking all the modules together creates a large, stable interlocking structure for maximum strength and stability in high winds or seismic events, said the company. All of the arrays feature ASE300-DGF/50-315 modules with a rated output of 315 Watts each. Taking into account the actual cost, which was reduced by a rebate from the local utility, the Coast Guard expects to recover all project costs in less than half that time.