The Weldon Springs Army Reserve Center (ARC) is at the small and complicated end of our project spectrum. While this project was only 12 kW of power capacity, it was intended to demonstrate advanced technology and serve as a focal point for the pedestrian entrance to the military complex. The solar-PV project was part of the new construction of the complex, prominently perched atop a landscape/architectural masonry wall. We engineered this project, and trained the local electrical contractor to successfully complete the installation on time and on budget. As this was a new construction green field project, the scheduling, logistics, site access, and commissioning all required close coordination among the trades and military agency owner.
Design Rationale and System Architecture: Working with the project architect and the Army’s Contract Administrator, we helped refine the features and benefits of this project to fit within their budget and critical-path schedule. The owner did not want to install any accessible electrical equipment, but still needed a high level of electrical safety. Based on the project objectives, we agreed to use microinverters for the power-electronics components. This selection also suited the difficult shading conditions from a nearby water tower.
Project Challenges: The racking had to be designed not to stress the masonry wall, but retain structural integrity when the modules are perched 12 to 20 feet above the ground. This mandatory objective was made a bit more challenging because this was a critical-use facility and required additional strength to comply with the wind strength.
Additionally, as with many of our projects, we needed to train the project’s primary masons and electricians in the installation of the racking and solar array. We needed to ensure that the military’s stringent quality assurance and performance benchmarks were met upon completion.