By Steven Bushong
Originally published on Solar Power World
Another Las Vegas landmark is going solar, and this installation is much larger than the 18-panel system at the famed “Welcome To Las Vegas” sign. Sunora Energy will outfit Mandalay Bay Resort Convention Center with a 6.4-MW dc system. The 21,324 solar modules are expected to provide 20% of the resort’s power demand.
MGM Resorts, which owns Mandalay Bay, chose the resort for its new solar array for its large sun-oriented rooftop, which spans about 20 acres. Mandalay Bay is buying the energy created from the project, designed and developed by NRG Solar, though a power purchase agreement. NRG owns and operates the array.
Solar Power World asked the project’s developers to tell us more. Here is what they said:
Question: A 6.4-MW rooftop array is very large, as rooftop arrays go. What challenges are inherent in such a large rooftop project and how has Sunora Energy overcome them?
Answer: Among the many challenges a project of this scale, the most significant would be the logistics of delivering and staging material at one of the largest and busiest convention centers in North America. We were not able to store material on the property, and were required to deliver everything “just in time.”
Communicating consistent and methodical coordination of material deliveries with Mandalay Bay’s engineering group allowed us to mitigate logistical delays, safety hazards and impact to the guest experience. Providing an accessible worksite, craft facilities and break areas is a difficult task for any large rooftop project, but doing so without impacting the properties operations or guest experience was an added challenge on a day-to-day basis.
Q: Thousands of people stay at the Mandalay every week. What impact will this array have on the public’s perception of solar?
A: With such a large rooftop installation taking center stage on Las Vegas Boulevard, the perception of application and viability of distributed generation will certainly shift from a “maybe” to “definitely” in Nevada. Not only will guests in the adjacent Mandalay Bay tower be able to see the array, but it will be highly visible to travelers arriving and departing from McCarran Airport, which is across the street.
Q: Are there any special considerations during the construction of this project?
A: Absolutely. Engineering a project of this scale across six different rooftops, each with their own elevations, topography and existing obstructions is a feat in itself. The primary consideration for NRG is keeping the men and women who are building the project onsite safe. Working in Las Vegas through the summer months presents a significant heat and sun exposure hazard that is mitigated with plenty of shade, defined rest/work cycles, cooling vests, buddy system and eight hour shifts allowing our people to get out of the heat in the early afternoon.
Q: What suppliers will be used?
A: EPC: Sunora
Panels: JA Solar and Hanwha QCell
Inverters: SMA America
Monitoring: Locus Energy
Q: Will there be a public education component?
A: As the largest employer in the state of Nevada, MGM Resorts is dedicated to educating its 52,000 employees in Las Vegas. The company is committed to extending its philosophy of environmental responsibility into the community through targeted awareness and engagement campaigns surrounding all sustainability initiatives.
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