BELFAST — JB Turner, president of Front Street Shipyard, said a new solar farm being constructed by Liberty-based ReVision Energy at the company’s off-site storage facility on Route 137 is expected to generate 45% of the total electricity needed at its main facility on the waterfront.

“It’s considerable,” he said. The facility at 38 Waterville Road currently has seven buildings that are used to store boats under 40 feet long, he said. The facility will continue to use the land and sheds at the site to store vessels, even after the solar panels are in place.

At first Turner thought about putting the panels on buildings at the main facility, he said, but found that all substations in the area were completely full.

Work on the solar farm has begun, according to Turner, with the clearing of a few trees and the drilling of holes for foundation forms. The power generated by the panels will go into a substation on Waterville Road, then back into the grid.

“Basically, we get credited” for the electricity generated, he said.

According to a Front Street press release, the shipyard will also earn Renewable Energy Credits  that can in turn be sold to help pay off the loan for the system. Renewable power generation creates actual power in the form of electricity, and environmental benefits that are measured in RECs.

While RECs are not actually a measure of power, each REC represents one megawatt-hour  of renewable-generated energy.

A REC is a certificate representing the environmental benefits of one megawatt-hour of electricity produced from a renewable resource (like sunlight). Further, RECs are not tied to the physical energy produced by the system, meaning they can be “unbundled” and sold to an entity that is not necessarily using the kilowatt hours that produced them.

Chris Donovan, ReVision’s director of finance, said RECs are separate from the credits Central Maine Power offers. They are a way to quantify how much renewable energy a system generates, he said. The credits can then be sold to other businesses, a utility or  the original recipient may choose to keep them.

 

An aerial rendering shows the proposed location of solar panels at the Front Street Shipyard solar farm on Route 137 in Belfast. Source: Front Street Shipyard

The solar farm will include 784 solar panels, each of which is rated at 445 watts DC, which equals 348.88 kW DC of energy. The system also includes five inverters that convert the DC power from the solar panels into AC power to go onto the grid, according to the press release. The installation is expect to produce 394,050 kWh per year, or about 40% of the electricity Front Street Shipyard uses.

The project is expected to be completed by Jan. 1, 2022, Turner said, and added, “it’s nice to be able to get something back. Anytime we can save money is good.”