Non-profit organization, Real Food Farm, is a part of Civic Works with a mission to provide access to fresh produce to communities in the Baltimore area. Real Food Farm teaches students the skills needed for a future career in agriculture. As part of their dedication to community and the environment, Real Food Farm commissioned Maryland installer, 21st Century Power Solutions, LLC to install a solar PV plant to benefit the organization and the adjacent school.
21st Century Power Solutions specializes in solar PV systems for commercial, government and residential applications, including system design, installation and interconnection. “Part of our community initiative is to make solar power available to more people and to positively impact the local environment,” said Rob Reichel, Operations Manager at 21st Century Power Solutions. “An interesting aspect of the Real Food Farm project was the ability to provide on-the-job training to students interested in a career in solar installation. We hired student interns who helped build the 13.52 kW solar PV plant.”
The solar PV plant’s location on city school property posed some unique challenges for the project, which required special permitting. Although on city property, the plant benefits the non-profit and was financed by a for-profit who will recoup the tax benefits. In addition, any access power from the plant will be absorbed by the adjacent school, so there will be no export of power to the utility grid.
Another key design challenge was the lack of internet service available onsite. When planning this project, 21st Century Power Solutions wanted an inverter direct monitoring solution which would provide an end-user interface so members of the organization and community could visualize the solar power being produced. They selected Solar-Log® monitoring for the connectivity and visualization needed. By installing a Solar-Log 300 with a cellular modem, Real Food Farm can use the Solar-Log® WEB platform as an educational tool for students and members of the organization.
Installation of the plant was completed in May after almost a year and a half of extensive planning and permitting. The final result is a 13.52 kW solar PV array consisting of 50 SolarWorld panels, 1 SMA Sunny Boy inverter, and a Solar-Log® 300 with cellular modem.
“It’s always rewarding when Solar-Log® products can help organizations like Real Food Farm to make a positive impact on our community and the environment.” Said Anton Kaeslin, President of Solar-Log®, “By using the Solar-Log® products installed, 21st Century Power Solutions, LLC will be able to ensure that the plant owner gets the most out of their PV plant and maximizes their return on investment.”