Grid-interactive, ground-mount utility PV systems on 6 sites across the state totaling 7.8 MW of power capacity
Iowa’s largest cooperative energy provider, Central Iowa Power Cooperative (CIPCO) selected Azimuth Energy to engineer, procure, and construct a total of 7.8 MW of solar energy at six locations across its service territory. CIPCO is a generation and transmission cooperative supplying power to its thirteen-member distribution cooperatives and associations. This territory stretches 300 miles and covers most of the state. The multi-site solar-PV installation was a multi-year, multi-phase program as part of CIPCO’s long-term plan to incorporate solar-PV as an additional emissions-free resource in its generation portfolio. The individual sites range in size from 380 kW to 2.5 MW based on site characteristics, and the siting challenges included wetlands, waterways, nearby airports, and archaeological artifacts.
Design Rationale and System Architecture: Ground-mounted arrays using galvanized steel, driven-pile, fixed-axis racking system for speed of installation, structural performance, and ease of maintaining planned vegetative undergrowth. We used compact, transformer-less string inverters to minimize losses, reduce construction cost, improve performance, and simplify maintenance.
CIPCO provided Azimuth with a selection of sites to evaluate and recommend the most suitable for achieving the desired project portfolio of systems. We then optimized the layout and economic characteristics of five of the sites, based on site boundaries, terrain, and current and potential shading obstacles.
Each site has unique characteristics that require special attention regarding site preparation, access, drainage, and other features. Upon completion, we will return the sites to their original condition, and cultivate a low-growth variant grass within the array field.
Project Challenges: This multi-site project included simultaneous site construction under a tightly sequenced schedule. Close coordination with each of the host cooperatives management and engineering teams along with the senior leadership and execution team from CIPCO required effective communication throughout all phases of the project.