Prep School Outstanding In The Solar Field

How it ranks in SAT scores or Ivy League admissions, we have no idea. But in the highly competitive world of New England prep schools, the Berkshire School in Sheffield, Mass., is definitely No. 1 at … solar. The private boarding high school and SolarWorld announced the completion of a 2-megawatt (MW) ground-mounted array at the school’s campus. Covering eight acres and featuring 8,332 SolarWorld SunModule solar panels, it’s the largest solar installation at a private school in New England, and the latest of three large SolarWorld projects in Massachusetts with a combined capacity of 7 MW.

The project features five different solar energy technologies, including fixed-tilt photovoltaic (PV) panels, single-axis tracking PV panels and newer technologies such as thermal energy dishes, thin-film PV panels and cylindrical solar cells. According to the school, the system will generate about 45 percent of the campus’ energy needs, and will feature an “energy investigations laboratory” designed to help students learn about different solar technologies and monitor the output of the array.

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image via SolarWorld

The system was installed by Connecticut solar developer PowerPlay Solar. Engineering, procurement and construction services were provided by Massachusetts contractor Spire Corp. SolarWorld and Spire Corp. have also collaborated on two other large installations on BJ’s Wholesale Club big-box stores in Massachusetts, totaling 652 kilowatts (kW). Headquartered in Bonn, Germany, SolarWorld operates manufacturing facilities in Freiberg, Germany, and in Hillsboro, Ore. SolarWorld is currently leading the Coalition for American Solar Manufacturing’s petitions for duties on imported Chinese silicon crystalline solar cells.

“Berkshire School has made an impressive investment in the goals and education of sustainability,” said Kevin Kilkelly, president of SolarWorld Americas. “The project heads in the direction that Massachusetts officials had in mind when they enacted ambitious solar legislation last year. Set against the picturesque backdrop of the Berkshire Mountains, the project is emblematic of the Bay State’s embrace of renewable energy.”

Lauren Craig is a writer and consultant living in Seattle, WA. She holds an M.S. in International Development from Tulane University, and is co-founder of Sustainable Systems Integrators, LLC., an employee-owned solar energy design and installation firm in New Orleans, LA. She is also certified in PV design and installation by the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP).