Frank Lloyd Wright Solar Power Project Energized

Not long ago, we brought you word that Taliesen West — home of both the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture and the Frank Lloyd Wright Archives — would soon have its electricity needs accounted for with solar energy generated on site in Scottsdale, Ariz., thanks to the new Energizing Taliesin West initiative. Now the site has inaugurated its new 250-kilowatt solar photovoltaic solar power system, marking phase one of a project designed to bring the entire National Historic Landmark up to net zero status.

The solar power system was donated by First Solar, which is partnering with the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation and energy efficiency consultant Big Green Zero on the initiative. A number of other companies based in and/or operating out of Arizona also donated materials and labor, including Power-One (which donated an Aurora PVI-Central-250kW inverter manufactured in nearby Phoenix, and associated performance-monitoring equipment) and Klondyke Construction (which donated electrical construction services).

Taliesen West solar array

image via First Solar

The ground-mounted solar power system at Taliesen West is expected to generate more than 500 megawatt-hours per year of emission-free electricity, offsetting more than 300 tons of carbon dioxide annually (the equivalent of taking more than 50 cars off the road). And while many of the site’s 100,000+ yearly visitors may have been more concerned, initially, about these panels marring Wright’s historic architecture, the conservation-minded will be happy to know that the native cacti and other plant species displaced by the array’s construction will be transplanted throughout the project site. (Those portions of the mounting system that are visible have also been painted to help blend into the surrounding desert.)

“We are very proud to be a part of this historic landmark, and we are confident the integration of clean solar power into Taliesin West will help advance the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and educate visitors from around the world about renewable energy,” said Jim Lamon, First Solar’s Senior Vice President of Engineering, Procurement and Construction and Operations and Maintenance, in a statement.

Lamon went on to note that the project represents a microcosm of the solar industry in Arizona, and that his company is  gratified that many of the same partners they’ve worked with to build utility-scale projects (such as Agua Caliente and APS Paloma) have joined in to make the vision of a net zero Taliesen West a reality.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.