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Large-scale Solar Generation Comes to Ohio

A developer of solar power plants throughout North America, juwi Solar, Inc. (JSI), sought to deploy a large solar generation field in north-central Ohio, and partnered with ESC engineering for system design and remote monitoring, as well as a variety of project oversight tasks. The resulting 10-megawatt field was, at the project’s energiziation, the largest solar installation in the State of Ohio and the second-largest of its kind east of the Mississippi.

Problem

JSI needed a power system design, equipment recommendations, and a communications system design and installation that would satisfy standard requirements while minimizing cost outlay and economic power losses. Special attention was directed toward recommending equipment that met standard code and compliance specifications while satisfying the client’s budget. Design considerations also included an adjacent airport landing field which intersected the positioning of the solar arrays and power stations, and right-of-way restrictions that necessitated a minor re-route of the four-mile distribution tie line to the substation.

Approach

The phase conductors for the distribution line were selected based on the lowest life cycle cost. 795 ACSR Drake conductor was utilized for the aerial phase conductor and 4/0 ACSR Penguin was determined to be sufficient for the neutral. To provide the proper balance of economics and reliability, the underground portions of this feeder line were designed with three single-phase 1,000 kcmil aluminum conductor with 220 mil insulation, 1/6 copper concentric neutral and an outer jacket. The four-mile distribution tie line from the solar field to the AEP substation was routed adjacent to rural roads. Due to aerial conflicts and right-of-way limitations, it was necessary to place the initial 500 feet plus one 2,300-foot segment of cable underground.

Result

In-house expertise at ESC was maximized for this project from multiple sources throughout the company. Individuals across diverse areas of experience and industry focus collaborated on the design of the DC solar application aspects, electrical distribution and protection, the four-mile distribution line, and the communications network. ESC performed the project commissioning before the solar field was energized to verify everything was operating the way it had been designed and all went smoothly with no necessary changes or corrections.