Globally Connected: Locally Sustainable
(page 9 of 15)
Photo: Partners of the Kapolei Sustainable Energy Park
From Brownfields to Brightfields
Kapolei Sustainable Energy Park
There’s an instructive story behind the Kapolei Sustainable Energy Park. It is one of innovative thinking that turned a dismal situation into a winning one. The 12-acre site had once been used for industrial disposal, until the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) closed it down in the 1980s and ordered it sealed and capped. The cap had to remain undisturbed. This rendered the site unusable. But James Campbell Company, which owns the land, saw a way to make it productive again in a totally sustainable way — build a solar plant over the site and still leave the cap undisturbed. It would be a brilliant way to turn brownfields (polluted lands) into brightfields (used for clean solar energy).
Brightfields is an EPA initiative described as “a revolutionary concept that addresses three of the nation’s biggest challenges — urban revitalization, toxic waste cleanup, and climate change — by bringing pollution-free solar energy and high-tech solar manufacturing jobs to brownfields. The Brightfields approach offers a range of opportunities to link solar energy to brownfields redevelopment and thereby transform community hazards and eyesores into productive, green ventures.”
“The Kapolei site was a perfect candidate for such a project,” said Campbell Company’s President and CEO Richard Dahl. “We were lucky to find receptive partners in Forest City and Hoku Solar, and even more fortunate that Hawaiian Electric has agreed to purchase the power generated at the plant.”
Hoku faced an interesting design challenge — how to build a racking system large enough to deploy the 4,200 solar panels without disturbing the cap. While racking systems are widely used in the industry, this one had to be specially engineered for the site. The solution is more than 750 700-pound concrete ballast blocks interconnected with a racking structure that will create an immovable foundation for the PV system.
“This has been a challenging design solution which will serve as a model for similar brownfield sites,” said Scott Paul, CEO of Hoku Corp. “We’re proud to be a part of Forest City’s team on this project.”
The plant is expected to produce enough solar generated electricity to power between 150 and 250 homes. “Project engineers estimate that over the next 20 years, this will reduce Hawaii’s dependence on oil by more than 55,000 barrels while eliminating more than 24,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions in the process,” said Forest City Hawaii’s president Jon Wallenstrom. “It’s a great example of how to turn brownfields into brightfields.”
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