Ameresco Inc. has broken ground on a solar project at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center’s Wallops Flight Facility in Wallops Island, Va.
Designed to be completed in two phases, the project, once complete, will meet at least 80% of the site’s electrical consumption. The solar installation is expected to reduce the facility’s carbon output by more than 4,310 metric tons per year – the equivalent of canceling the CO2 emissions from 2,756 homes’ electricity usage over a one-year period, says Ameresco.
The project will include ground-mounted solar panels installed near NASA WFF’s airfield, as well as solar carport panels.
The project includes $14 million in renewable energy and infrastructure improvements. It is expected to provide more than $537,000 in first-year energy cost-savings; in future years, the solar output, combined with energy conservation measures, is expected to allow for $3.1 million in energy cost-savings.
Because the partnership between NASA WFF and Ameresco is an energy-savings performance contract (ESPC), NASA WFF will accrue no upfront costs. Instead, through the ESPC, NASA WFF will fund the project through energy cost-savings derived from the installation.
“This is a significant project for Wallops because it will create a renewable source of energy for our facility in the near term while also laying the foundation for the energy generated on-site to contribute to our region’s existing energy grid in the future,” explains Dave Pierce, NASA WFF director. “The installation of a solar field in such close proximity to a critical airspace is a rarity, and our project serves as a model to other similar facilities that it is possible to install a meaningful solar farm that will greatly reduce carbon output, even with limited real estate.”
“We’re fortunate to have enjoyed a long history working with NASA via the ESPC model,” adds Nicole Bulgarino, executive vice president of federal solutions at Ameresco. “NASA has been an engaged and creative collaborator; we work together to develop innovative projects that will positively influence NASA facilities, as well as their surrounding communities. We congratulate NASA WFF on embarking on a solar initiative that other flight facilities will strive to emulate.”