Solar farm to power Philly government buildings gains momentum after Covid, supply chain delays


Officials with the City of Philadelphia announced that they have signed an updated power purchase agreement (PPA) with Virginia-based Energix Renewables for the annual electricity generated by the 80 MW Adams County solar farm.

The aptly-named installation is set to be constructed on farmland in Straban Township, Adams County, not far from Gettysburg, though the project’s new construction timetable is still up in the air. The project was originally set to break ground in the first half of 2020 and be operational in 2021, however the plant’s receival of conditional approval, granted at the end of 2019, coincided with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the global supply chain hardships created in part by the pandemic served to further delay development and construction.

Whenever the project is completed, currently anticipated for some time in 2023, it is anticipated to power 22% of the demand coming from Philadelphia government buildings, as a significant step towards the city’s goal of sourcing 100% of its electricity from renewables by 2030. And along the way it will eliminate more than 4 million tons of carbon dioxide emissions over its lifetime. The city’s reaffirmation of its PPA means that the city will purchase the electricity generated by the project for 20-years after its commissioning.

The city of Philadelphia will also take market ownership of the electricity generated by the project, which will be delivered to Peco territory, since there is no way to send electricity directly from Adams County to Philadelphia.

As far as the hardware intended for use, Energix stated that the project will be constructed with First Solar modules mounted on single-axis trackers.

When it was first announced and on its original schedule, the Adams Solar Farm was on track to be one of the largest projects in the state. Since that time more large, utility scale installations have been announced and begun development, including the 127 MW CPV Maple Hill solar installation. Maple Hill began construction in 2021 and will start providing power to Hydro’s aluminum extrusion facility in Cressona, Pennsylvania this summer. The solar field will consist of 237,000 Talesun bifacial panels on a single-axis tracking system to maximize energy production. The tracker provider has yet to be disclosed.

Utility scale solar development has accelerated in Pennsylvania since the start of 2020. The state is currently home to just under 900 MW of installed solar capacity, the 23rd-most in the nation, according to data from the Solar Energy Industries Association and Wood Mackenzie. Over the next five years, the state is expected to add another 1.9 GW, good for 18th in the nation over that time.

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