Over on the east side of Athens, Georgia at a wastewater treatment plant, there is one of the largest solar panel installations in the county. The general public doesn't often visit, but it's on the forefront of the drive to 100% clean energy in Athens.
The project was deployed in early 2019 and will see an immediate return in energy consumption. It is anticipated as the largest solar project in Athens with a system size of 600 kW, which will have annual production rates of 1.2 million kWh. It would require over 12,000 (46 acres!) of trees to absorb the same amount of the expected 606 tons of carbon emissions that would otherwise be produced by traditional fossil fuel energy consumption. It will save 252,519 gallons of water over the life of the system.
Rather than supplying energy to the facility, this installation supplies energy directly to the energy grid for Athens-Clarke County. The site was built on an existing plot where no trees had to be removed before installation. Increasing the utility of the land and providing an excellent source of energy for the community without destroying forests is vital for the Athens area.
There are 1824 solar panels at 62lbs each (that's 113,088lbs of solar panels) that have to be moved throughout the day to follow the sun.
The 'bellows' on the panels are air-driven (another clean energy), which track the sun throughout the day, moving the solar panels to capture the most amount of light and maximize energy output.
One of the things that surprised the SolarSMART team the most was how short the solar array is. It's only about 4 feet off the ground in most places! The team from Radiance Solar was out there for repairs on one of our visits, and they were sitting on the ground under the solar panels to fix them!
The 53-watt array is projected to break even after 10 years but has an estimated longevity of 25 years, which should give the county an outstanding return on its investment.
The Cedar Creek Water Reclamation Facility Solar Panels played host to a squad of natural grass mowers earlier this year. The sheep (chosen instead of goats because they won't eat the electrical wires) took care of the long grass under the panels.
The ACC website about the Cedar Creek Water Reclamation Facility solar panels: https://www.accgov.com/8720/Cedar-Creek-WRF