When Corn Belt Power’s Wisdom Unit One was converted from coal to natural gas in 2014, the need for a coal pile ceased. A portion of the space formerly occupied by a tall pile of coal will now be home to a 150-kilowatt solar generation station.
“Since Wisdom Unit One converted from coal to natural gas, the coal yard has turned into an open, grassy area,” said Jacob Olberding, vice president, power supply, Corn Belt Power. “The area we chose to construct the array is very flat, does not have any nearby structures or power lines that would cause shading, and won’t interfere with current operations or future expansion projects that might take place at Wisdom Station.”
he project is multifaceted. While adding more solar generation to its already diverse energy portfolio is important, Corn Belt Power also hopes to learn a little about new and emerging technologies.
The project will feature 600 total panels, with 75-kilowatts of generation on fixed tilt arrays and 75-kilowatts on single-axis tracking arrays.
“There are many different solar installations throughout the Corn Belt system,” explained Olberding. “Some are fixed and some are trackers but we aren’t aware of any locations that had both fixed and trackers installed right next to each other. Our goal for this project is to provide accurate information to the Corn Belt membership so they can make informed decisions when they are deciding whether a fixed or tracking array is best.”
A fixed-tilt array is an array in which the panels never move and are pointed in one direction at all times. The single-axis tracking panels will move with the sun to maximize energy generation.
Following commissioning of the project, Corn Belt Power plans to set up a webpage for co-op members to see how the two different arrays perform.
The project is set to begin early this fall.