Long Island Solar Farm  |  Case Study

Flat Panel Polycrystalline Silicon Photovoltaic Solar Power Plant:  32 MW

  1. While larger silicon photovoltaic solar power plants are currently under construction, New York’s 32 MW Long Island Solar Farm remains, as of mid-2012, the largest utility-scale silicon (c-Si) solar PV power plant in the United States.

 
  1. Completed in November 2011 after a 12-month construction phase, the 32 MW Long Island Solar Farm (LISF) is comprised of 200 acres on the grounds of the Brookhaven National Laboratory, and is the largest photovoltaic array in the eastern United States, the largest in the state of New York, and is among the largest in the nation developed on federal property.  The LISF is made up of 164,312 fixed ground-mount polycrystalline silicon solar panels from BP Solar which provide enough electricity for roughly 4,500 households. 

  2. The project was designed by Blue Oak Energy and BP Solar subcontracted construction works to Hawkeye LLC from Haupauge, New York.  In addition to providing thousands of Long Island homes and businesses with clean, renewable electricity, the project also offers Brookhaven Lab scientists, through the newly established Northeast Solar Energy Research Center and Lab, a unique opportunity to study the challenges of deploying large-scale solar power installations in the northeastern U.S, where variable weather conditions can impact the array’s output on an hour-by-hour or even minute-by-minute basis. Understanding these local microclimate effects will facilitate the reliable integration of power from intermittent sources into the electric grid, further advancing state and national renewable energy goals.

  3. This 32 MW project is the result of years of hard work and cooperation between BP Solar and MetLife (private co-investors, co-owners), the U.S. Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory (federal partner and host site for the PV facility), and the Long Island Power Authority (public municipal utility, power purchaser, and public funder for clean energy markets).  As part of the project, LIPA, Brookhaven Lab and BP Solar established a Natural Resource Benefits package to enhance environmental benefits of the LISF project: LIPA will provide $2 million for open space preservation within the Central Pine Barrens Region; Brookhaven Lab will preserve an additional 51 acres of property that builds upon the 500-plus acres it previously preserved in the 1990s; and. BP Solar will provide $75,000 for ecological habitat, research and restoration.

  4. The plant earned the Best Photovoltaic Project of Year Award from the New York Solar Energy Industries Association and Renewable Energy World’s “Excellence in Renewable Energy | Reader’s Choice Award.

  5. The project will help assist New York State in meeting its Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of 30% renewable resources by 2015. 

  6. Technology

  7. While more expensive that polycrystalline silicon solar cells, monocrystalline cells are significantly more efficient.  As of mid-2012, the ten most efficient monocrystalline silicon solar cells range from 19.1% to 22.5%. The top ten polycrystalline cell efficiencies range from 15.24% to 16.0%.  Dramatically dropping silicon costs have increased price competition with lower cost but less efficient thin film solar PV.  As of early 2012, commercial panel conversion rate efficiencies for thin film industry leader First Solar had reached 12.4%..

  8. Project Development

  9. Joint venture partner BP Solar also provided the BP Solar polycrystalline silicon solar PV panels used in the project.  The Long Island Solar Farm project is the last solar project undertaken by BP as they wind down their solar operations after 40 years of research and development that saw them install 1.6 GW of solar product globally.

  10. Levelized Cost of Energy

  11. In 2012, the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s Annual Energy Outlook (AEO2012) estimated that the best case scenario levelized cost of energy (LCOE) for a generic new commercial-scale photovoltaic solar power plant would be $0.1222/kWh.  This best case estimate would be for an installation in a solar resource-rich location (southwest U.S.) and does not differentiate between silicon and thin film technologies.  This figure is inclusive of all direct costs and does not include any incentives or subsidies.  The AEO2012 LCOE figure represents a rather remarkable one year 23% ($0.0365/kWh) drop from the AEO2011 projections.

  12. For more information on LCOE and how photovoltaic solar power generation costs match up, see:  Levelized Cost of Energy:  Renewable energy has achieved parity.

  13. Financing

  14. The Department of Energy (Brookhaven National Laboratory) provided the land for the project. No detailed financing information is openly available. 

  15. References

  16. Long Island Press.com:  Long Island Solar Farm Opens in Upton

  17. http://www.longislandpress.com/2011/11/21/long-island-solar-farm-opens-in-upton/

  18. Long Island Power Authority:  BP Long Island Solar Farm

  19. http://www.lipower.org/company/powering/solar-bp.html

  20. Long Island Solar Farm

  21. http://www.bnl.gov/GARS/docs/LISF-brochure.pdf

  22. Wikipedia:  Long Island Solar Farm

  23. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Long_Island_Solar_Farm

  24. Brookhaven National Laboratory:  Long Island Solar Farm Project Overview

  25. http://www.bnl.gov/GARS/SET/LISF.php

  26. Wikipedia:  List of Photovoltaic Power Stations

  27. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_photovoltaic_power_stations

  28. SEIA (Solar Energy Industries Association):  Major Solar Projects List

  29. http://www.seia.org/research-resources/major-solar-projects-list

Location:

  1. Upton, Long Island, New York, United States

Project Status:

  1. Construction start:  Fall 2010

  2. Commissioned:  November 2011

Rated Capacity:

  1. 32 MW

Annual Production:

  1. 44.0 GWh per year

Capacity Factor:

  1. 15.7% (solar resource:  1,617 kWh/m2/yr)

Carbon Offset:

  1. 30,950 metric tons per year

Owner:

  1. Long Island Solar Farm, LLC (co-owners:  BP Solar and MetLife)

Developer:

  1. Long Island Solar Farm, LLC

Construction:

  1. BP Solar and Hawkeye, LLC

Generation Offtaker:

  1. Long Island Power Authority (LIPA).  20-year PPA

Generation Technology:

  1. (164,312) BP Solar polycrystalline silicon (c-Si) photovoltaic solar panels on Solar Flex Rack fixed mounting

Thermal Storage:

  1. N/A

Cost:

  1. TBD