Science and Technology News

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

NAS Jax Completes Rooftop Solar Power Generating System

By Clark Pierce, Editor, Jax Air News, Naval Air Station Jacksonville

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (NNS) -- Engineers and technicians gathered at Naval Air Station Jacksonville's Hangar 1122, May 1, to celebrate completion of the station's largest rooftop solar power generating system.

Helicopter Anti-Submarine Squadron (Light) (HSL) 42, Executive Officer Cmdr. Derek Fleck, whose squadron is a tenant of the hangar, cut the ribbon at the ground-level DC inverter array.

"This system will contribute about 25 percent of the hangar's annual electricity consumption," said Lt. j.g. Luis Velazquez, construction manager of the Naval Facilities Engineering Command (NAVFAC) Southeast solar project. "A total of 2,534 solar photovoltaic (PV) panels are installed on the roof of Hangar 1122 located near the St. Johns River seawall."

The $5.7 million project was funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) of 2009 and was completed ahead of schedule.

Fleck said he was honored to cut the ribbon for the project. "Our hangar's solar roof epitomizes the alternative energy commitment of SECNAV (Secretary of the Navy) Ray Mabus and CNO (Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan) Greenert - who are determined to change the way our Navy produces and procures energy."

William Allen is the field engineering manager for Atlantic Contingency Constructors of Norfolk, the contractor for the project.

"The PV panels convert sunlight into direct current (DC) voltage that is fed into combiner boxes from which electric cables run to the ground-level inverters. The inverters turn the DC into alternating current (AC), which then flows into the hangar's mechanical room where it's distributed through the base power grid," explained Allen.

"There are meters in the mechanical room that monitor how the inverters are performing. Hangar 1122 is also on the base central monitoring system in order to determine exactly how much power is being generated."

Velazquez concluded, "This project contributes to achieving the Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus' energy goal of increasing alternative energy afloat and ashore - and by 2020 - producing at least 50 percent of shore-based energy requirements from alternative sources."

The hangar is home to three MH-60R Seahawk helicopter squadrons (Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 70 "Spartans," HSM-74 "Swamp Fox," and HSL-42 "Proud Warriors") and the rooftop PV construction activity did not impact their operational readiness.

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