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Huge Solar Installation Powers Water Treatment Equipment at Superfund Site (Calif.)

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Aug-09-10 12:19 PM
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Huge Solar Installation Powers Water Treatment Equipment at Superfund Site (Calif.) /

A forty acre, six megawatt solar power plant is providing the energy to run a water treatment operation at a Superfund site in California, and the U.S. EPA is so pleased with the results that theyve produced a detailed case study to help promote similar projects across the country.

The case study details how solar power came to resolve groundwater contamination at the Aeroject General Corporation site (pdf) through a partnership that involved the company, the local utility, and the solar installer and it also describes how the installation is producing benefits beyond its initial goals.

Aerojet is an aerospace and defense company situated on 5,900 acres in the Sacramento area. It acquired the former gold mining area in the 1950s, when it was relatively remote. In 1983 EPA put part of the property on the National Priorities list due to groundwater contaminated with industrial chemicals and pesticides, which threatened the nearby American River. To clean up the site, billions of gallons of water (102 billion so far) have been pumped out of the ground and sent to a treatment plant, which of course requires copious amounts of energy.

The Aerojet Site and Solar Power

Multiple factors came together to enable the solar installation. Aerojet has development plans for other parts of its property, so it was highly motivated to cut the cost of remediating the Superfund site while reducing its carbon footprint. It also had land available on its property that was ideal for a solar installation (in other words, flat and undeveloped). The local utility was none other than the Sacramento Municipal Utility District, which has been front and center in adopting solar energy. The utility put up $13 million of the installations $20 million cost under a power purchase agreement. One crucial piece of the puzzle was the installer, Solar Power, Inc., which stepped up to the plate and self-financed the first phase of the project when the investment community got the jitters, partly due to the 2008 crash and partly over concern that the use of a Superfund site would cause complications.

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