FPA won a Distinguished Engineering Award from the New Jersey Alliance for Action for the QTS Princeton Solar Array project in East Windsor, NJ.
The QTS Princeton Solar Array is a 14.1 Megawatt Photovoltaic System, one of the largest, privately owned, net metered photovoltaic systems in the Western Hemisphere. The Solar Array occupies approximately 50 acres of a 194 acre campus. The PV system contains over 57,000 solar modules, 24 power inverters and was constructed on a portion of the campus that was previously used for an agricultural purpose. The project site is surrounded on two sides by existing residential neighborhoods which resulted in the need to address both the visual and the physical impact of the extensive renewable energy facility on the adjacent community.
The goal of the solar project was to reduce a large energy demand on the facility and an overall reliance on energy produced by fossil fuels by providing an alternative renewable energy source. By promoting the use of “Green” energy through the use of photovoltaic panels as the primary source of electricity for the facility, a reduction in the users’ carbon footprint was accomplished in a manner that was complementary to the surrounding area.
The design of the extensive solar array project on a former agricultural area minimized the impact to the environment by significantly limiting the need to remove existing trees. In addition, the use of a patented SOLSTICE module mounting system, developed by Advanced Solar Products, provides a less visually intrusive low profile installation by maintaining the top of the panels no more than 2 feet off the ground whereas traditional ground mounting systems place the panels at eye level. A five-foot tall grass covered berm with supplemental evergreen screening serve to address the local resident’s concerns regarding the visual impact of the array on their property values and quality of life.
FPA designed an innovative stormwater management system that utilizes the voids in the stone below the array to meet the NJDEP Stormwater Regulations requirement for a reduction in peak flow from the site. The resulting stormwater runoff from the site was then redirected away from the adjacent residential community which had experienced temporary flooding conditions under storm events as the result of an undersized municipal drainage system. This unique approach results in a renewable energy source that is friendly to the environment and the surrounding community.