Spire Climbing Center

Projects

Client Profile

The Spire Climbing Center is not only a world-class climbing gym, but a well-loved hub for Bozeman's thriving outdoor community. In the summer of 2017 the owners of Spire -Meg Swanson and Jeff Ho- decided to take their commitment to the environment to the next level by commissioning a 50 kW rooftop solar installation. OnSite Energy partner/owner Conor Darby -a long time climber at Spire- offered them a project design and price that was leaps and bounds more attractive than the one he had offered them in 2007, when solar panels were half as efficient and nearly twice as expensive! Having recently completed a construction addition to the gym that expanded it's existing size by 150%, the center's energy usage for lighting, HVAC, and air filtering was significantly higher. The time had arrived for Spire to go solar!
Spire Climbing Center

Commercial

2017
Bozeman, MT
The finished product! A roof seemingly made for this solar array
The finished product! A roof seemingly made for this solar array
Spire Climbing Center

Commercial

2017
Bozeman, MT
INSTALLED2017
POWER49.5 kW
PRODUCTIONEstimated 68,349 kWh/year
Energy Offset30%
PANELSLG 330-Watt Neon2, Monocrystalline Cells (x150)
INVERTERFronius Symo 15.0-3 15 kW Inverters (x3)
MOUNTSnapNrack Series 100 Universal Rail System
WARRANTY12 Year Manufacturer's Warranty, 25 Year Power Warranty

Client Profile

The Spire Climbing Center is not only a world-class climbing gym, but a well-loved hub for Bozeman's thriving outdoor community. In the summer of 2017 the owners of Spire -Meg Swanson and Jeff Ho- decided to take their commitment to the environment to the next level by commissioning a 50 kW rooftop solar installation. OnSite Energy partner/owner Conor Darby -a long time climber at Spire- offered them a project design and price that was leaps and bounds more attractive than the one he had offered them in 2007, when solar panels were half as efficient and nearly twice as expensive! Having recently completed a construction addition to the gym that expanded it's existing size by 150%, the center's energy usage for lighting, HVAC, and air filtering was significantly higher. The time had arrived for Spire to go solar!

The Design/Build


The roof at Spire -40' high in the air with no shade and a 27-degree tilt- is among the best in the Gallatin Valley for hosting a solar array. It did, however, have a custom spatial dimension that required premium 330-Watt solar modules to hit the target array size of 50 kW. At 19.3% module efficiency, the LG 330-Watt Neon 2 module is among the most efficient modules in the world. The result was an aesthetic, symmetrical array that maximizes the available roof space. To the viewers eye, it would seem that the roof was made for this solar array!

The industrial alcove in the rear of the building had an open, north-facing wall space for the solar inverters, providing them with protection from the extreme heat that we experience in Montana during July and August. The facility's electrical service is located in the same alcove, making the system interconnection simple and convenient. We used three Fronius Symo 15 kW 3-Phase inverters to convert the DC electricity from the solar array into the AC voltage configuration that is compatibile with the facility's electrical service.
Unique Challenges
The primary challenge on this project was working on the very inaccessible and very exposed roof surface. At a height of 40' at the eve, a boom lift was a necessity for hoisting the solar panels to the roof, and fall protection was a must for our installers!

Financial Elements

This project was awarded a 25% grant from the USDA REAP program- a must for all for-profit entities pursuing solar in communities with populations fewer than 50,000 people. The program funding comes through the federal 'Farm Bill' that is voted on each year in congress. 

The owner was also able to utilize a 30% federal tax credit for the system, and will be able to utilize the depreciation savings for 85% of the project cost over the MACRS 6-year schedule.

Lastly, though the solar cells are expected to degrade about 1/2% annually, that is outweighed by the 2% national average for annual utility rate escalation. In short, the financial value of the energy produced by the system will be worth close to 40% more 25 years from now! 
Three Fronius Symo 15 kW inverters, mounted outside on a well-protected wall
Three Fronius Symo 15 kW inverters, mounted outside on a well-protected wall
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