nj-carport3Ok, so you can’t plug EVs or PHEVs directly into it — but it’s impressive nonethless. It’s also a good indication of the growing link between solar and automobiles. Finally, its presence is likely to increase public awareness about the synergy between solar and (electric) cars.

We’re talking about a gigantic one megawatt elevated solar PV carport completed this week by Alpha Energy for the Manheim New Jersey National Auto Dealers Exchange (NADE) auction facility in Borderntown, New Jersey.

“We are proud to design and deliver a full megawatt of solar power to the renewable energy power grid,” said Drew Zogby, President and COO of Alpha Technologies.

The system is installed on what Alpha Energy says is the largest continuous elevated solar racking structure in the United States. It is equivalent in size to three American football fields and is elevated 23 feet in the air.

In addition to pumping out electricity for the Manheim NADE facility, the installation will provide protection from the elements for the thousands of cars which roll through the auction facility every year.

The one megawatt single continuous array of solar modules includes more than 5,000 photovoltaic panels spanning a total area of 104,000 square feet. The panels are tied in to a single electric meter via 11 separate inverters to ensure that if a single array needs troubleshooting, 90 percent of the system will still produce electricity. The system also includes a web-based monitoring system to allow for easy energy tracking and performance.

nj-carport-installConstruction and installation required 550,000 pounds of steel, 240 cubic yards of concrete and 54,000 feet of wiring. The system will generate more than one million kilowatt hours per year, roughly the amount required to power 114 homes annually. The CO2 offset of 1.9 million pounds is equivalent to preventing the annual emissions from 158 cars.

Alpha Energy, with offices in Bellingham, Wash. and Phoenix, Ariz., specializes in the design, engineering and installation of complete renewable energy systems for businesses of all sizes. It is a member of The Alpha Group.

Manheim provides automotive services to commercial sellers and automobile dealers. A wholly owned subsidiary of Cox Enterprises, Manheim has 32,000 employees at 124 worldwide locations.

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