SunBug Solar is excited to announce the completion of a 443 kW solar array across seven buildings at the Mashpee Commons shopping center.
August 19, 2016
Mashpee Commons is an open-air shopping center with a celebrated style that models classic New England town centers. The Commons are the physical and social center of the quaint Cape Cod town of Mashpee. Year round, locals come to the Commons to enjoy time with their family, friends, and neighbors; in the summer especially, the Commons welcome thousands of visitors seeking a fun and relaxing refuge from the heat of the Massachusetts sun. At all times, Mashpee Commons upholds high aesthetic standards and strives to provide an authentic Cape Cod experience to its guests.
This drive for excellence led Mashpee Commons to pursue solar energy to offset their electricity use. One of three finalists for the job, SunBug Solar was ultimately selected to carry out the project on the basis of a strong regional reputation, positive client interactions during the selection process, and a balanced approach to designing the solar layouts. SunBug made a point of leaving clear space for access to all existing rooftop equipment--an approach that was greatly valued by the client. In the end, the customer decided to install solar on seven different buildings throughout the outdoor shopping facility.
One of the unique features of the Mashpee Commons project was SunBug’s use of horizontal drilling. The Commonwealth of Massachusetts requires a formal waiver from the Department of Public Utilities to install more than one net meter on a single parcel of land. Therefore, the seven rooftop solar arrays at Mashpee Commons had to be tied into one main Point of Interconnection--without cutting pavement. SunBug Solar decided to use horizontal underground drilling to connect the arrays to the main panel. The result is over 2000 feet of underground conduit and wiring from each building to the main combiner panel.
Another distinctive element of the Mashpee Commons solar system is the monitoring setup. In order to connect inverters on seven separate roofs to a single cluster controller, SunBug Solar installed NanoBeam wireless devices on each roof. The NanoBeams link to a NanoStation on the central roof that is connected to the cluster controller, which is wirelessly connected to the local area network. To create a truly wireless system, SunBug Solar configured port forwarding, allowing direct, remote access to the cluster controller. As a result, the operational solar system is ready to receive remote software upgrades, string level analysis, and expedited operations and maintenance. SunBug Solar selected hardware with high throughput and kilometer-range internet protocol communications in order to deliver an inverter-direct monitoring system in the unique setup of Mashpee Commons.
In conclusion, the Mashpee Commons solar project is highly innovative, tying together seven roofs into a single net meter with a single high-speed system monitoring system--all without disturbing the operation and culture of a beloved commercial and community center. The effort called for a great deal of creativity on the part of both SunBug Solar and the client, and the result is an impressive, 443kW array that will help offset Mashpee Commons’ energy use for many years to come.
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