- On-Site Photovoltaic Solar Facility
The U.S. Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs targeted becoming a net zero and carbon neutral operation. Its long-term goal: to produce as much energy — preferably from renewable resources — as it consumes on its 18,000-acre campus. The academy planned to construct an on-site 5-MWAC photovoltaic (PV) solar facility, its first venture into solar power. To develop the project, the academy enlisted the aid of the local power company, Colorado Springs Utilities. The utility retained Burns & McDonnell as owner's engineer, responsible for developing the solar facility's technical specifications, soliciting and evaluating proposals, and overseeing construction and performance testing. Read a feature article about the project development.
Project development included detailed preliminary planning, done concurrently with a respondent qualification package and a power purchase agreement (PPA) request for proposal (RFP). As part of the PPA RFP process, we assisted the owner in pre-qualifying bidders, creating the technical portions of the RFP documents, developing the Instructions to Bidders, evaluating bids, and determining the most competitive and advantageous PPA provider. Our team was an integral part of the contract negotiations with the successful PPA provider.
Burns & McDonnell also provided site representation during the construction throughout the project.
Our team developed conceptual solar array layouts on various sites, including access ways and medium-voltage equipment. A technology assessment included comparing fixed thin film to fixed crystalline silicon to crystalline silicon with single-axis tracking. The analysis included land use, estimated installation cost and theoretical energy production. Energy production profiles, using existing typical meteorological year (TMY) data, were generated and superimposed on electricity demand profiles to project the contribution each technology would have toward reducing academy’s peak demand profile.
The technologies considered for this project included: fixed-, single- and dual-axis tracking systems incorporating thin-film, monocrystalline silicon and multicrystalline silicon modules. Bidders provided their modeling inputs and guaranteed system outputs as part of the bidding process. Burns & McDonnell verified each qualified bidder’s guaranteed system outputs based upon their proposed PV solar technology. Our team employed PVSyst coupled with TMY3 weather data to evaluate and build comparative models of each qualified bid.
We also collaborated with the selected PPA provider to develop the performance test procedure. Burns & McDonnell provide a site representative to witness the testing and evaluate the final test report.