Solar Power Comes To Yosemite In A Big Way

The largest grid-connected photovoltaic system within the National Park Service is up and running at Yosemite National Park’s El Portal Administrative Complex, the park announced. The system, dedicated on July 27, consists of 2,800 U.S.-made solar panels, and will produce approximately 800,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year for the 1,189 square mile park.

The $5.8 million project, funded by a grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, harvests clean energy from three arrays on the park’s roof tops, car ports and park building facades.

A portion of Yosemite National Park's new solar array.

image via SolarWorld

Yosemite officials said the park will save up to $50,000 per year on electricity purchased off the grid. In addition, the park expects to receive a rebate totaling $700,000 from Pacific Gas & Electric over the next five years. This represents an approximate 12 percent reduction in electricity purchased off the grid as well as substantial reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

The 672-kilowatt (kW) project was handled by SolarWorld, using the company’s 240-watt mono-crystalline silicon solar panels made in Hillsboro, Ore. The majority of the array – 500 kW – is mounted upon a visitor-and-employee parking canopy. A 100-kW roof-mount system atop a warehouse and a 72-kW system on a sloped wall of an office building round out the system.

Steve Duda lives in West Seattle, WA with three dogs and a lot of outdoor gear. A part-time fly fishing fishing guide and full-time writer, Steve’s work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Seattle Weekly, American Angler, Fly Fish Journal, The Drake, Democracy Now! and many others.