One of the client's primary requests for the design of the system was that the solar array be easily moveable to accommodate future expansion of the facilities. The design solution was a ballasted ground mount system with anchor points integrated into the concrete blocks, which allows for the solar panels and racking system to be disassembled and the concrete blocks to be easily moved via the anchor points. The secondary request was that the system be as robust and low maintenance as possible. By opting for 20-year inverter warranty extensions, web based system monitoring, and OnSite Energy's 5-Year commercial operations and maintenance warranty, which includes an annual in-person inspection and electrical performance verification, Sibanye Stillwater can rest easy that their investment will operate at it's full potential with minimal oversight and maintenance requirements.
Breaking additional ground, this project is the first non-export behind the meter solar electric system in the state of Montana. With a large base load and a single meter for the entire smelter complex, the 100 kW DC rated solar array will never push energy on to the grid, thereby eliminating the need need for a net metering agreement or the 50 kW system cap as imposed by NorthWestern Energy.
Unique ChallengesEven though funding for the solar project was earmarked in the first quarter of 2017, the project did not go out to bid until September and the contract finalized in late October. Based upon funding sources, there was a strict deadline of project completion before the end of the year. The OnSite Energy team worked efficiently through the design and engineering phase in order to finalize equipment procurement and schedule construction to start the first week of December. As with any solar installation in Montana in December, there are bound to be weather challenges, not to mention short days and icy roads. As always, we were very proud of the dedication of our installation crew to work through challenging conditions to make sure our clients needs were met. Another successful project and more solar energy on the grid!
Solar from above!