On the east side of Toledo, Ohio, adjacent to the overpass where Central crosses I-280, between the prison and the elegant suspended causeway lies the solar array that provides the electricity that compensates for the lights that beautify the bridge. Squeezed between 280 and Galena St is a hillside made largely of broken concrete and glass sloping upward to Central Avenue. This was the challenging site for Xunlight’s first ground cover array. The robust product design was to be put to the test.
On paper the array design looked interesting. Because of the continuous, relatively flat arraying techniques possible with Xunlight’s XR36 module, the Xunlight portion of the array would be covering less real estate than its more efficient glass encapsulated counterparts mounted on structures with spaces left between the rows for shadowing. The two portions of the array were roughly equal in terms of maximum power.
Maneuvering trenching equipment for anchoring the membrane on the slope was a delicate operation, but the crew’s landfill experience allowed them to accomplish the membrane installation task in a timely manner, and time was definitely a factor, as was weather, since rain delays had already pushed installation back to late autumn. The entire array was to be commissioned in January and it was already November. Luckily a few sunny days enabled Xunlight crews to demonstrate the rapid installation possibilities inherent to the design and have the array completed on time and under budget.
The primary purpose of the array, besides demonstrating ground cover and other mounting techniques, was to provide power to compensate for the lights on the suspension bridge. After commissioning the system a problem was discovered; the array produces more energy than the bridge uses. As problems go, that’s not bad.
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Alternative Uses of Highway Right-of-Way: an article from the US DOT, Federal Highway Administration.