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The 32 MW Long Island Solar Farm has been commissioned

The 32 MW Long Island Solar Farm hosted at the US Department of Energy's (DoE) Brookhaven National Laboratory, has been switched on.

By Kari Williamson

The solar farm consists of 164,312 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels and is owned by BP Solar and Met Life. It is expected to produce 50 GWh annually, which will be fed into the Long Island Power Authority's (LIPA) grid.

The solar farm has entered into a long-term power purchase agreement (PPA) with LIPA to provide the energy produced and Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) from the solar farm. The costs to LIPA under the PPA are estimated to total US$298 million including interconnection costs over the contracted 20-year term – or about US$0.60 per month for the typical residential customer.

“This landmark project was truly a team effort and a historic achievement for all involved,” Mike Petrucci, CEO of BP Solar, says.

“In addition to our primary partners, key political, community, environmental and labour leaders played important roles throughout the development and construction of the project. The result is a significant source of clean energy for Long Island, as well as a positive economic impact for the local workforce and businesses. I am certain Long Islanders will be very proud of this facility for many years to come.”

Learning opportunity

Doon Gibbs, Brookhaven Lab’s Deputy Director for Science & Technology, adds: “In addition to providing thousands of Long Island homes and businesses with clean, renewable electricity, this impressive solar array also offers Brookhaven Lab scientists a unique opportunity to study the challenges of deploying large-scale solar power installations in the north-eastern US, where variable weather conditions can impact the array’s output on an hour-by-hour or even minute-by-minute basis. Understanding these local ‘microclimate’ effects will help us reliably integrate power from intermittent sources – like solar and wind – into the electric grid, and advance state and national renewable energy goals.”

Protecting the environment

The Long Island Solar Farm conforms to State law and meets all standards and guidelines for a project of this type. As part of the project, LIPA, Brookhaven Lab and BP Solar established a Natural Resource Benefits package to enhance environmental benefits of the solar farm: LIPA will provide US$2m for open space preservation within the Central Pine Barrens Region; Brookhaven Lab will preserve an additional 51 acres of property that builds upon the 500-plus acres it previously preserved in the 1990s; and. BP Solar will provide US$75,000 for ecological habitat, research and restoration.

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Photovoltaics (PV)  •  Solar electricity