On Aug. 10, members from Cypress Creek Renewables, a N.C.-based company, joined with the Brandywine Lions Club and Charities Foundation members in Cheltenham during ribbon cutting ceremonies to celebrate the completion of a Simba Community Solar Farm project co-located on 22-acres of land leased by the Lions Club.
“We’re glad to be a part of this project, because it’s going to be a huge financial lift to our club so that we can support our various charities and other endeavors that we support,” said Tab Wheeler, secretary for the Lions Club. “We turn the money back into the community by supporting Lions Club International, Lions Camp Merrick in Nanjemoy, which is a camp for blind, diabetic and deaf kids, and also Christmas baskets for the local needy.”
According to Parker Sloan, Cypress Creek community and economic development manager, the farm, which took three to four months to complete, is powered by 8,344 modules, which will support approximately 340 homes of residential subscribers who buy into the solar plan annually.
A tour of the ground facilities and solar modules was made available after the ribbon cutting ceremony, which marked the completion of the solar farm project. However, Cypress Creek is waiting on utility company PEPCO to transfer power to the grid sometime soon.
“The power will go into the grid and residential subscribers in the community buying the power from the solar farm will benefit,” Dave Wagner, Cypress Creek project manager, explained during the tour. “There’s a very complicated modeling system that we installed. It’s a system based on wind speed , ambient temperature as well as a pyranometer sensor that monitors and converts the global solar radiation it receives into an electrical signal that can be measured.”
“Along with the Cheltenham solar farm, Cypress Creek has about 400 sites which are monitored from Durham,” said Rebecca Cranna, chief operating officer, Cypress Creek personnel. “Cypress Creek is responsible for the operations, development and construction the project which took nearly four months.”
“All that data goes to one place and there’s a team that monitors it 24 hours a day, seven day a week. It’s cool, because you don’t have to be here to monitor it,” Cranna said. “They’ll send all that data to Durham, get through all the analytics, see if everything is functioning properly, monitor any problems remotely and deploy a technician out to fix it.”
Cranna further explained tracking systems are connected to move the solar panels throughout the day on a single axis, so it’s following the sun to optimize how sun or insulation hits the panel, so it can maximize the amount of total electricity production.
The solar modules are weather rated to handle abusive or inclement weather conditions for decades specific to the areas in which they’re located, including snow, rainstorms and extreme heavy winds.
“I built a plant in Puerto Rico which survived that Category Four hurricane,” Cranna said. “So, they can sustain high winds, but you have to do the design right. You design it to the weather conditions of the area.”