Solar field nears completionWritten by Duane Ramsey | | email@example.com
The solar installation at UT’s Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation will become the largest solar field in Ohio upon its completion by the end of this year, according to industry sources.
“UT will have the largest solar field in Ohio and it was built cheaper, faster and quicker thanks to ADG and First Solar,” said Norm Johnston, chairman of Ohio Advanced Energy (OAE), a business trade association promoting advanced and renewable technology industries in the state.
Advanced Distributed Generation (ADG) is installing the 1.1 megawatt solar field that could provide 5 percent of the electric power used by UT, according to Johnston.
About 30 workers are involved in the installation of the 75-watt photovoltaic panels produced by First Solar of Perrysburg, according to John Witte, president of ADG.
“I believe the Scott Park Campus of Energy and Innovation will play a significant role in moving the world away from its dependence on fossil fuels, as well as serve as an extremely valuable resource for our students,” said UT President Dr. Lloyd Jacobs in a statement.
“The campus will become a laboratory for students and researchers to develop, test and advance alternative energy technologies,” he said.
Johnston reported that 99 percent of components for the UT solar installation were made in Ohio. Only the solar inverters were not produced in the state, but will soon be made in Northwest Ohio, he said.
Nextronex Energy Systems will begin producing solar inverters that convert the DC current from a solar array to AC current for electric utility grids, according Norm Rapino, president and CEO of the company.
“We’re entering our production phase for the solar inverters and should be ready to announce major investments in our company next week,” Rapino said.
ADG is a licensed general contracting company, based in the alternative energy incubator at UT, specializing in the design and installation of photovoltaic systems for commercial, institutional and residential customers.
The company’s experience includes more than $9 million in commercial construction projects and $4 million in photovoltaic installations. The installed capacity of ADG projects is approximately 500 kilowatts of grid-connected photovoltaic systems, Witte said.
ADG is the leading photovoltaic system integrator in the Midwest, according to Witte who founded the business with his partner Mark Tuttle. They have 35 years of combined experience in the renewable energy industry.
Mosser Construction of Toledo is the general contractor for the UT project with other local suppliers, including Design Engineers & Consulting Associates of Maumee, Laibe Electric/Technology Company of Toledo and Toledo Fence & Supply Company.
The UT installation would replace the current largest solar field in the state located at the 180th Fighter Wing of the Ohio Air National Guard Base adjacent to Toledo Express Airport. That project was built with 93 percent of the materials and labor from Ohio, according to Witte whose company also installed that solar field.
“That project will help to lower the base’s electric costs and make it more energy independent,” Johnston said. “The one megawatt solar field even generates electricity on the shortest and darkest day of the year, while melting snow off the photovoltaic modules.”
Funding for the $5 million solar project at the National Guard Base was secured by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur through her work on the Defense Appropriations Committee. She also got $1.4 million to fund a smaller solar field at Camp Perry in Port Clinton.
“We would not have been afforded this opportunity without the support of Marcy Kaptur. That’s why we call it Marcy’s Megawatt,” he said.
“There’s a tremendous demand for solar that’s building and Northwest Ohio is uniquely positioned to fill that demand,” Kaptur said in a statement. “The pieces are all here.”
The OAE has developed a proposed plan for an Ohio solar cluster. Johnston said that Northwest Ohio has all the resources to be the center of solar energy in the state.
“Everything is in place and ready to go. All we need is someone in Columbus to help fund it,” said Johnston, president of Solar Fields LLC in Perrysburg.
Johnston has more than 25 years of experience working in the local glass and insulation businesses with Owens-Corning and former Libbey-Owens-Ford, now Pilkington Glass, and as a business entrepreneur in automotive manufacturing.