Duke Energy’s business unit, REC Solar, has finished building the world’s most extensive commercial solar system. It was installed at the W. M. Keck Observatory in Hawaii atop a dormant volcano with the highest altitude of 13,600 ft.
The project is situated near the summit of a dormant volcano, the Mauna Kea. The 133-kW solar facility can produce 259.1 MWh of energy per year. It is projected that the setup will decrease the electric power needs of the observatory by 15 percent.
The project is essential to Keck as it promotes its service and core values of stewardship. According to the observatory’s infrastructure specialist, Mark Devenot, it will reduce the company’s dependence on fossil fuel-derived electricity.
This Keck project was considered special by the REC Solar team as it focuses on innovation, safety, and science. The team kept its respect to the wind and land limitations from the project’s start to achieve its goals. The result was phenomenal as it provided Keck with an innovative energy solution that will positively impact the company and the environment.
The location was both challenging and beneficial. With the high altitude, the panels are exposed to more photons. It enables the panels to produce more energy than the panels located on a sea-level surface.
The solar installation at a rooftop as high as the Keck Observatory’s telescope facility opens doors for researchers to observe and farm data about how the solar panels could operate in an atmosphere with higher than average winds and high UV index.