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Anaheim Convention Center: A showcase of sustainability

Anaheim Convention Center: A showcase of sustainability


RE+ is taking place this week in a showcase of solar and sustainability. The Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, California is LEED certified and has a 2.4MW rooftop solar system that was completed in 2014 at a cost of $5.7 million. The system was installed by Borrego Solar and is owned and managed by the Anaheim Public Utilities. At the time of the installation, it was the largest city-owned, convention center, roof-mounted system in North America. It currently provides about 17% of the convention center’s energy, and when not being used by the center, the electricity is goes to nearby neighbors.

According to Mark Brownrigg, Solar Advantage Rebate Program Manager with Anaheim Public Utilities, the main incentive to construct this system was to add to the utilities’ renewable portfolio standard. Senate Bill X1-2, which was enacted into law in April 2011, required that Anaheim Public Utilities provide 33% of retail energy needs with renewable energy sources by 2020.  Brownrigg said that this solar PV system contributes 1.5% toward this goal.

The Anaheim Convention Center has about 550,000 square feet of available rooftop on four exhibit halls. Solar is now covering about 300,000 square feet on three halls, or about 55%. The expansive roofs offer Anaheim Public Utilities a great opportunity to fulfil some of the state-mandated Renewable Portfolio Standard goals now, with expansion potential in the future. Brownrigg said that the utility is “researching the feasibility of building more distributed generation facilities in our utility district, which may include expansion of the solar PV system located at the Anaheim Convention Center sometime in the future.”

Borrego Solar was able to complete the installation in the four months they had budgeted for the project. The greatest challenge was the fact that the convention center has a full schedule of trade shows, so Borrego’s project management team had regular meetings with convention center staff to coordinate the work around events taking place in the exhibit halls. Managing a crew of up to 60 at a time was no small task, but with regular communications and flexibility, they kept from interfering with the operations of the convention center, while staying on task and completing on time.

In its first year of operation, the installation generated 2.52 GW of energy, or 17% of the Convention Center’s energy needs.

The installation uses Sunlink Core RMS racking for the nearly 8000 Yingli solar panels (300W). Two Advanced Energy 500NX inverters provide the power electronics.

The Anaheim Convention Center is a model of sustainability, not only for its rooftop solar, but because it has implemented a range of initiatives including an on-site recycling program, farm to fork culinary program, an on-site composting facility and a rooftop garden.

A kiosk with monitoring information is on display in the lobby of the convention center, letting convention center visitors view graphical representations of the amount of energy being generated by the rooftop installation.  In terms of the environmental benefits, the annual carbon dioxide offset is 4.9 million pounds, and the amount of clean energy generated is equivalent to removing 526 passenger vehicles from the road or planting 2050 acres of trees annually. The system is expected to generate 108.3 million kWh through 30 years of production.


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