A $1.5 million solar array project is underway at the Pilkington Research and Development Center in Northwood.
The project includes the installation of solar panels on a one-acre Brownfield site originating from the company’s former East Toledo float plant. Pilkington once used the area as a sand pond, which has gone through a clean-up process.
“In order to take advantage of recycling the Brownfield property, we’re installing the solar array to reuse the property and put it back into a beneficial use,” said Kara A. Allison, spokesperson for Hull & Associates, an engineering, energy and environmental consulting firm that has partnered with Pilkington to install the ground mounted solar panels.
The large-scale panels will be mounted on posts and built out in rows, according Allison.
“The total installation will include 3,420 solar panels. The panels themselves are all adjusted to the proper angles so they don’t overlap and are designed to capture energy from the sun,” she explained. Once it is stored in the panel, it is transferred to an electric system that converts it into energy.
The solar energy facility will be the largest private sector, behind-the-meter renewable energy project in Ohio, according to Allison.
“This is the largest private solar project of its kind under development right now in the state,” she said.
The solar panels for the project are being supplied by First Solar, which incorporates Pilkington solar energy glass products. The Pilkington brand name has been closely associated with the development and production of glass products since its founding in 1826.
“Pilkington manufactures the glass that’s being supplied to First Solar, the company that’s making the solar panels for the project. So this project is coming full-circle. It’s an old Pilkington property. The company is recycling and reusing the property for a new, energy conscious use, and Pilkington manufactures the glass being used in the panels that will go back into the solar installation on their property,” said Allison.
The solar energy facility will supply approximately 12-percent of the Northwood facility’s power requirements and reduce green house gas omissions. The new solar facility is expected to be fully operational by next month.
The project is being managed by Hull Energy LLC, a newly formed renewable energy project development and asset management company. An affiliate of Hull, Hull Energy has been established to develop, operate and own renewable energy projects for municipal, commercial and industrial clients.
Hull is providing the private financing for the project, which was partially supported by a $680,782 grant from the Ohio Energy Office through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act’s State Energy Program.
“We were one of 12 grants that were awarded statewide,” she said.
The company is involved in several other solar projects around the state, she added.
“We built a solar facility at our office in Bedford, which is in the Cleveland area. It’s also a Brownfield site. We took an old contaminated property, cleaned it up, built our offices, and installed a solar project on it,” she said.
The company is also doing another solar project for the City of Wilmington in southwest Ohio.
“We’ve been involved in some wind projects, so we’re doing quite a few renewable energy projects,” she said. “I think you’re going to see more and more of these projects on small and large scale as people see there are individual benefits to doing these type of projects,” said Allison. “The bottom line on this is that Pilkington is going to realize some cost savings on their annual energy bills, and it’s also a good, green project for them that brings them full-circle.”