On July 27, the park cut the ribbon on the largest solar array in the national park system, a 672-kilowatt, three-array system with U.S.-made SolarWorld photovoltaics.
The $4.4 million project was made possible thanks to an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act grant, according to Park Ranger and spokesperson Jessica Chamberlain.
“Basically, it meets the park’s air quality goals and pollution reduction goals and allows it to be a leader on renewable energy,” she said. “The goal wasn’t to save money, but rather to make progress in regards to renewable energy.”
But it’s allowing the 1,189-square-mile park to cut its reliance on grid-supplied electricity and saving money, Chamberlain said.
“It’s going to save approximately $50,000 a year, producing a 12 percent savings on electricity purchased off the grid,” she said. “So it will take a while for the prices to balance out. But it will lower the price of electricity [for the park].”
Yosemite was the first site slated to become a national park, so it’s fitting it should be a leader among the parks again with solar installations.
Yosemite was set aside by Abraham Lincoln, Chamberlain said. He commissioned the land for the purpose in the midst of the Civil War, but ultimately Yellowstone ended up as the first national park because of California statehood issues.
The solar installation includes a 500-kilowatt parking canopy for employees and visitors, a 100-kilowatt array on a warehouse rooftop and a 72-kilowatt array on the wall of an office building at the park.
“The wall has an angle to it. It’s sloped out on that first floor,” said SolarWorld spokesperson Ben Santarris. “I can’t think of another place where there are three different projects in one place like that.”
The project was installed by Suntrek Industries Inc., a SolarWorld installer.
“This project was about protecting an amazing national park,” Alex Smith, Suntrek project manager, said in a press release.
Image courtesy of SolarWorld.