There have been a lot of state "firsts" for solar arrays in the past few months -- in states other than the two biggies, California and New Jersey.
Minnesota, for example, got its largest array when IKEA switched on 1,014-kilowatt (kW) system over the summer; and Virginia and Michigan said the same a few weeks earlier, because of projects financed by the retailer. Developers in Oregon are working on its biggest solar project so far and now we have word from Maryland that the state's department of general services is relying on a 16.1-megawatt (MW) array.
The installation in Emmitsburg isn't being billed as THE largest, but it is up there in terms of renewable energy capacity, supplying 20 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually (which saves roughly 17,981 metric tons of carbon dioxide from being released into the atmosphere each year.
The project was spearheaded by Constellation, a division of utility company Exelon that owns and operates the $50 million plant and sells power back to the Maryland Department of General Services and University System of Maryland under 20-year-long power purchase agreements.
The installation is ground-mounted, using about 220,000 advanced thin-film photovoltaic panels spread across about 100 acres of land leased from Mount St. Mary's University. There is also a 1.6 MW system on the site that supplies electricity directly to the university.
Said Thomas H. Powell, Mount St. Mary’s University president: “The solar farm presents an exciting learning and teaching opportunity for our students and for the local community, and places the Mount at the forefront in championing responsible land use and promoting renewable energy resources.”
The projects were supported by the Maryland Generating Clean Horizons program, which was started to encourage projects that connect clean energy to the state's grid by 2014.
Contellation has developed more than 112 MW of solar installations under power purchase agreements for commercial and government customers (like this new facility). It has developed 25 MW of solar for customers in Maryland, including General Motors and McCormick & Company.