Solar farm reinvents Schenectady’s energy future

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This diagram illustrates how a typical solar power station converts electricity to usable power. Courtesy of wikimedia.com

Schenectady County and Monolith Solar opened a three-acre solar farm at the Schenectady County Compost Facility and Resident Recycling Center in Glenville earlier this month.

According to a news release by the Schenectady County Legislature, the farm was installed at no cost by Monolith Solar and will generate 592.92 kilowatts of solar energy a year.

It will supply power to a number of municipal buildings including County Liberty Branches, as well as Glendale Nursing Home.

Jeff McDonald, Chair of the Legislature’s Committee on Facilities, stated that Schenectady County hopes to both save taxpayer’s money on electric bills and be environmentally responsible moving into the future.

The City of Schenectady Energy and Carbon Emissions Review of April 2010 accounts for nearly ten thousand tons of carbon emissions by sector.

Wrapping up years of work, the installation of 1,944 solar panels at Hatcheltown Road in Glenville completes Phase 1 of the solar farm initiative.

The new solar farm will more than double the current solar electricity generation at the Rotterdam Branch Library, the County Recreation Facility and the County Business Center.

Moving forward, the County Legislature is planning to install enough solar farms to generate a full five megawatts of power.

This will result in $6 million of savings over the course of twenty years.

It will also supply two-thirds of Schenectady County’s electricity with solar energy.

Carbon dioxide emissions are expected to be reduced by 759,000 pounds a year.

To convert solar power to electricity, the solar farm will be wired into the city’s power grid via an inverter which converts DC power into AC power, called a solar photovoltaic system.

In other words, sunlight is captured and converted directly into electricity.

According to the Monolith Solar website, 1 mW of solar energy can power an average of 164 homes.

Further, every kilowatt of energy supplied by a solar photovoltaic system can increase a home’s resale value by nearly six thousand dollars.

A study by Solar Power Europe describes an exponential growth in the number of megawatts generated by photovoltaic systems in each continental region.

Europe generates the most megawatts at nearly one hundred thousand per year, although the United States is witnessing growth in the solar sector.

The solar photovoltaic system takes advantage of New York’s Remote Net Metering policy established in 2011.

Sites which utilize renewable energy systems can receive tax credits for every kilowatt hour of excess energy produced.

Because the Glenville solar panels are interconnected to the power grid, buildings which otherwise would not be able to maintain solar panels will be able to take advantage of renewable energy benefits.

The Schenectady County Legislature states that the panels will save the County approximately $30,000 in energy costs in its first year, and $1 million over twenty years.

The Glenville solar farm is one of the larger ones in the region in terms of electricity generation. 881 solar farm projects generating under 200 kwH have been completed in the Schenectady area since Dec. 2000, as mapped by the data.ny.gov website.

 

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