Award of Merit Energy/Industrial: Hill Air Force Base Solar
Hill Air Force Base Solar
Hill Air Force Base, Utah
Award of Merit
Owner: Energy Systems Group
Government Agency: U.S. Air Force
Lead Design Firm & General Contractor: CS Energy LLC (Formerly Conti Solar)
Structural Engineer: RBI Solar Inc.
Design Consultant: KMB Design Group LLC
The Hill AFB solar project utilized a 3.55-MW DC array that significantly increased renewable energy for the base. The 10,458 Mission Solar panels were combined into 26 Solar-Bos combiner boxes using 18 modules per string. Then four Yaskawa-Solectria inverters convert the DC power from the modules into AC power going into two Sunbelt transformers. They, in turn, connect to the base electrical grid, where special equipment tracks the solar production in real time.
The installation is projected to save the Air Force millions of dollars in utility costs over its 20-plus-year life span by reducing the base’s consumption of electricity from the grid.
The new solar array also is expected to produce 17 times more energy than the existing array and improve resiliency of the base’s power supply.
The system is designed to be scalable and allow for potential future expansion that can add electric storage to the system. The project was financed by CS Energy, which will maintain and operate the system over a 23-year agreement. Work was completed on time and 3% under initial cost projections.
A previously installed solar field at the base had suffered a direct lightning strike, causing extensive damage, so lightning protection was a must. The lightning system required flexibility in how it was applied in order to ensure that adequate protection was installed between the panels without damaging the panels themselves.