Solar Array Gives Life to Brownfield at Toledo Zoo


By Kathleen Zipp

Originally published on Solar Power World


We’ve covered stories about solar on zoos and solar on brownfields. Now, the Toledo Zoo is getting a lot of bang for the buck by combining the two. We love this use of solar!

Today contractor Rudolph/Libbe broke ground on a 2-MW solar array for the Toledo Zoo in Toledo, Ohio. The zoo will purchase enough power to supply approximately 30% of its electrical energy needs, significantly reducing the zoo’s carbon footprint.

Rudolph/Libbe, a Solar Power World Top 250 Contractor, will design and build the project on a 22-acre brownfield site in south Toledo. GEM Inc., one of the Rudolph/Libbe Companies, will perform licensed electrical work.


The 28,000-panel solar array will be among the largest in the nation to supply power to a zoo. The project will be built using Calyxo solar modules, which use innovative thin-film technology developed in Toledo. Nextronex, of Toledo, is providing inverters, combiner boxes and distributed architecture for the solar array. Alex Products is supplying steel racks for the solar modules.


Rudolph/Libbe developed the project exclusively to provide a power purchase arrangement for the Toledo Zoo. The ground-mount system will contain no moving parts. The array will produce approximately 2.6MWh per year.


Buffer areas will be planted around the perimeter of the solar array and common areas with grasses native to northwest Ohio.


The project will be complete in early to mid-2014.


Local union labor will construct the project, which will create about 60 construction jobs. “We employ many of the area’s most skilled, dedicated and experienced tradespeople. We’re proud to put them to work on this solar array,” Slattery says. “This project is a great example of the public and private sectors working together to benefit the zoo and the community. We’re taking a contaminated brownfield site, which is a negative financial burden for the city, and turning it a positive for the city of Toledo and the Toledo Zoo. This is a huge win for our community.


In 2010, Rudolph/Libbe also designed and built the Toledo Zoo’s SolarWalk. The SolarWalk used more than 1,400 solar panels and was designed to resemble a snake winding along the perimeter of the zoo parking lot to the entrance. Last year, the SolarWalk generated 99,041.29 kWh of electricity.