New solar farm at BNL is New York’s largest

11/20/2011 10:00 AM |

COURTESY PHOTO | An aerial view of the Long Island Solar Farm.

The installation of the state’s largest solar farm at Brookhaven National Laboratory will generate enough energy to power 4,500 homes per year, officials announced at a press conference at the laboratory Friday.

The 32-megawatt Long Island Solar Farm, owned by BP Solar International Inc. and MetLife, is the largest photovoltaic array in the eastern U.S. and among the largest built on federal property. The 164,312 solar panels at the lab also has the smallest footprint for a solar farm of its output.

The project will generate about 50 gigawatt-hours per year of renewable energy into the Long Island Power Authority’s electric grid. It is not clear how much the project cost BP and MetLife to build.

“This is a historic day for LIPA, our customers, and all of Long Island,” said LIPA chief operating officer Michael Hervey. “The thousands of solar panels mounted at this site represent a significant investment and commitment to Long Island’s energy, environmental, and economic future.”

BNL officials said the project will also allow researchers to study the challenges of deploying a large-scale solar power installation in the Northeast where weather conditions can affect the energy output.

“Understanding these local ‘microclimate’ effects will help us reliably integrate power from intermittent sources — like solar and wind — into the electric grid,” said BNL deputy director for science and technology Doon Gibbs.

LIPA will purchase the energy produced at the farm and provide it to its customers at a cost of about $298 million over the course of the 20-year contract. That number breaks down to about 60 cents per customer per month, LIPA officials said.

The project, which received the “Best Photovoltaic Project of Year” award from the New York Solar Energy Industries Association, is expected to reduce carbon emissions by about 30,000 metric tons per year.

“This transformational project truly begins to leave fossil fuels as a remnant of our polluting past and begins a new legacy for clean, safe, sustainable energy,” said Adrienne Esposito, executive director of Citizens Campaign for the Environment.

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