Chicago May Get Largest U.S. Urban Solar Plant

by | Apr 30, 2009

chicago-skyscrapers2On the south side of Chicago, a former industrial park is the proposed site of a $60 million project to add 10 MW of solar photovoltaic panels.

Supporters say it will be the largest urban solar installation in the United States. The project, which is contingent upon a federal loan guarantee under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, is being built by Exelon and SunPower Corp., according to

The 32,800 solar panels at the site would meet the annual energy requirements of 1,200 to 1,500 homes, and displace approximately 31.2 million pounds of greenhouse gas emissions annually. That’s the same as removing 2,500 cars from the road or planting more than 3,200 acres of forest, according to the story.

The installation would be on a leased lot of 39 acres at the West Pullman Industrial Redevelopment Area, a so-called “brownfield” property. Exelon Generation would own and operate the plant and market the electricity and Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) it generates. SunPower’s part is to design, manufacture and install the solar system.

Smaller towns also are looking to solar as a power solution.

A partnership between real estate developer Kitson & Partners and electric utility Florida Power & Light (FPL) will yield what is claimed to be the world’s largest solar photovoltaic power plant, with the electricity destined for a new city to be powered by solar energy.

The 17,000-acre city of Babcock Ranch will consume less power than the on-site solar facilities will produce, allowing it to become the first city powered by zero-emission solar energy, according to Kitson & Partners.

Businesses are getting in on the act, too.

Schering-Plough Corp. recently completed a 1.7 megawatt solar energy system at its Summit, N.J., site. With panels located atop seven buildings, the system is one of the largest photovoltaic rooftop installations in New Jersey and North America, according to a press release.

The system is owned by PPL Renewable Energy, which will sell the power to Schering-Plough. According to the release, the system is capable of providing up to 12 percent of the site’s peak energy needs, reducing CO2 emissions by approximately 1.3 million pounds a year.

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