Logansport Solar Farm Site Visit
By Matt Davis, Director of Tax Credit Investments
I recently visited the Logansport solar farm with Alchemy Renewable Energy construction manager Christian Thompson located in Logansport, Indiana. It was interesting and incredibly informative, and I would recommend that any investor or prospect take advantage of a visit to a site like this. Many thanks to Christian for his time and patience as he walked me through the site and explained how everything works. It is inspiring to see one of these installations in action while supplying renewable electricity to the power grid in near silence!
|Type||Ground Mount Solar|
|Energy Generation||19.7Mw DC / 16Mw AC|
|Offtaker||Logansport Municipal Utilities|
|PPA Term||30 years|
Other than the carbon-free renewable energy produced at the site, there are several other interesting features at Logansport. The financing of this project benefitted from the solar Investment Tax Credit (ITC) which has played an instrumental role in the expansion of renewable energy in the United States. The site generates about 19Mw DC/16Mw AC of electricity that flows to Logansport Municipal Utilities. The benefits of this clean energy are quantifiable. Below are just a few metrics for an installation that will produce power for 35-40 years:
|Metric Tons of CO2 equivalent abated||17,250||690,000|
|Cars removed from the road||3,800||152,000|
|Gallons of gasoline||1,950,000||7,800,000|
The positive impacts do not stop there. Logansport is also home to a bee and butterfly habitat that will benefit agriculture in the surrounding areas. The development has planted a pollinator seed mix under and around the solar panels which will cultivate honeybee and butterfly populations. In fact, the city of Logansport will recognize June 26 as Bird and Pollinator-Friendly Solar Day. The environmental and social impacts are clear.
Let’s take a walk through Logansport.
We are met by a fairly non-descript entrance to the solar farm. Logansport covers about 80 acres. The solar panels can collect up to 19.7Mw DC electricity. This converts to about 16Mw AC electricity which is then transmitted to a substation adjacent to the site.
Logansport utilizes a fixed tilt ground mount rack system. The panels face south, and the angle is determined by the latitude of the site. Here in Indiana, the panels are tilted at about 30 degrees. Further south in Florida, for example, that tilt will be more like 15 degrees. There are 48,870 individual solar panels at Logansport.
The wiring of each individual panel is tied together and fed into a combiner box.
A solar farm is a pretty quiet place. The only noise you will hear is a buzz from the inverters as they convert electricity from DC to AC. Groups of combiner boxes feed into four inverters located throughout the site. Each manage roughly 25% of the solar energy collected. The energy collected by the solar panels is absorbed as direct current (DC). Before this energy can be transmitted, it must be inverted to alternating current (AC). These inverter units also include transformers which transform the electric power from 600 volts to 13,800 volts so it matches the voltage of the substation.
Before heading to the substation, the electricity generated at this solar farm has one more important stop – the facility’s switchgear. This device controls the flow of electricity to the substation and protects the hardware throughout the site by preventing power surges or unsafe flows of electricity into or out of the site.
The substation transmits the electricity generated at the site into the power lines which service the homes and businesses of the Logansport community.
There’s a lot of technology that goes into managing the operation of the solar facility. This weathervane collects an enormous amount of data that is critical for the site’s optimal operation. The sensor at the top of this pole measures the intensity of sunlight which enables engineers to determine how much electricity will be produced at any given time.
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