The accelerating growth of utility scale Solar energy in the world has required developers, Solar Tracker leaders, design teams, fabricators and the hot-dip galvanizing industry to work together to fully harness power from the sun. They come together in places such as the desert of McCarmey, TX to collaborate on solutions to compete with conventional forms of energy and deliver renewable energies and clean technologies. This Roadrunner Solar Plant project in TX promises to generate approximately 497MW of solar energy annually. To put it in perspective, that’s enough to power more than 100,000 U.S. homes and it’s driven by Array Technologies.
The growing traction of Solar in the energy complex & coupling with hot-dip galvanized coating is sure to pave the path for greater penetration in the industry for zinc.
With more than 1.2 million advanced bi-facial solar panels, the Roadrunner Solar Plant is one of the largest of its kind in the world and the largest operational solar farm in Texas. Sitting on an incredible 2,770 acres, it has an oversized impact on our shared environment by avoiding the emission of over 800,000 tons of CO2 per year. The energy produced at Roadrunner is already set to be leveraged by some true titans in the food service and cleaning products industries. Mondelez International, maker of Oreos, signed a 12-year, 65MW power purchase agreement with Enel Green Power. That is enough energy to produce 10 billion Oreos! The Clorox Company also signed a 12-year purchase agreement for 70MW of power.
Array Technologies, Inc. is a global leader in solar tracking, with 25+ GW of projects awarded and installed worldwide. The company’s single axis solar tracker has become the most durable and reliable tracking system under the sun due to the improvements made over three decades of field testing. The hot-dip galvanized component of these solar trackers include 5-30 pound steel brackets fabricated by General Stamping & Metalworks. In total, an impressive 650 tons of steel brackets were galvanized for the Roadrunner Solar Plant.
The OEM and solar industry has selected hot-dip galvanizing for over 10 years because of the unparalleled track record in corrosion control over design life in tandem with cost effectiveness. Owners now select hot-dip galvanizing to protect steel in the harshest of conditions including the desert. The galvanized coating elongates the service life of steel because it corrodes at a rate of 1/30 of bare steel and 1/5 of painted steel in the same environment. Solar projects operate in a demanding continuous workflow once installed and any repairs or maintenance results in costly disruption to service. For this reason, hot-dip galvanizing has become the solar industry’s preferred method for corrosion protection. It also fits the theme of Array’s greater reliability and absolutely zero scheduled maintenance commitment.
The OEM and fabricator stated that steel availability and quick turn of hot-dip galvanizing offered a distinct advantage in supply chain requirements for this accelerated delivery solar project. The robust design minimizes potential failure points while documented field analysis showed how corrosion control is optimized with hot-dip galvanized protection. The specifier’s understanding that the coating’s zinc patina is stable & non-reactive unless exposed to aggressive chlorides or sulfides helped clarify how hot-dip galvanizing contributes to the corrosion control over design life. This was an important consideration when comparing hot-dip galvanizing to alternate coatings.
Furthermore, the uniform and complete coverage of hot-dip galvanizing is superior to other coatings because it provides even protection to edges, corners and threads with coating thickness equal to or greater than flat surfaces. The alloy layers of zinc and iron become an integral part of the steel in the hot-dip galvanizing process and become harder than the steel itself. These characteristics support consistency and accuracy of system performance in the field on specific steel members.
The solar industry has shifted from an erratic, heavily subsidized sector toward a maturing industrial growth market with more predictable cash flow and profitability profile. The solar frontier has never been greener and community solar projects, coupled with massive utility scale installs like Roadrunner, hold great promise for a sustaining impact to the hot-dip galvanizing market.
The Roadrunner project has also driven growth “at home,” with Enel Green Power creating 500 local jobs during construction, making investments in local education and emergency response initiatives, and generating approximately $60 million in new tax revenue over the life of the project.
Electrical, Utility & Communication
McCamey, TX United States
Coating Durability, Corrosion Performance, Life-Cycle Cost, Prior HDG Experience, Quality of HDG, Sustainability, Turnaround Time
5-30 lb structural steel brackets
Carl Sabinas & John Axelberg
Karen Rand, Dave Mead, Naveen Abraham
Valmont Coatings - Empire Galvanizing
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