North America’s largest rooftop solar power plant announced

22. June 2011 | Applications & Installations, Global PV markets, Markets & Trends | By:  Jonathan Gifford

A nine megawatt (MW) photovoltaic system will be constructed on the rooftop of a giant refrigerated warehouse in New Jersey, by a partnership between the family owned Holt Logistics and SunPower Corporation. The project will cost $42 million and is expected to be completed before the end of the year.

A picture of the Walt Whitman bridge on the Delaware river.

New Jersey will host North America's largest rooftop installation as public policy shifts. Image: Flickr/erglantz.

The Gloucester Marine Terminal building will host the photovoltaic installation and is on the banks of the Delaware River. It is hoped the power generated will be sufficient to supply 80 percent of the terminal’s electricity needs.

The joint venture formed for the project is called Riverside Renewable Energy and 27,528 photovoltaic panels will be used. SunPower will also use its T5 Solar Roof Tile system, which combines a solar panel, frame and mounting system into a single unit.

The project will be partly funded by federal government tax credits, which are designed to encourage investment in solar and other renewable energy source systems, and borrowings from Rabobank. The project will generate revenue through the state of New Jersey’s Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs) scheme, the price of which are supported by the state’s comparatively high mandated renewable energy requirements.

"This $42 million, privately funded project is a testament to the strength of New Jersey's solar market," said Lee A. Solomon, President of the N.J. Board of Public Utilities. However, the New Jersey Renewable Portfolio Standards (RPS), which requires utility companies to purchase a proportion of their electricity from renewable sources, may be altered from its current upward trajectory.

At present, New Jersey is currently the second-largest consumer of solar energy in the U.S. with nearly 300 MW of installed capacity. However, when New Jersey Governor Chris Christie released his draft Energy Master Plan earlier this month, he signaled a change of direction. The draft plan would abandon the goal of a 30 percent renewables by 2020 target set by his predecessor, reducing it to 22.5 percent. The plan is an attempt to reduce electricity prices, which presently are the sixth highest in for residential retail electricity in the country.

The Republican Governor’s draft plan has been attacked by the solar industry, which has recently blossomed in New Jersey. It may even be seem to contradict some of his earlier statements about the industry. When visiting the WorldWater and Solar Technologies in Princeton, Christie has praised solar energy and environmental entrepreneurs. "These are the folks who are going to put folks back to work, even more than the large corporations," Christie said during a press conference.

The Energy Master Plan is a non-binding ten-year outlook document and the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities is responsible for its implementation after public consultation.


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