Featured Array: Sacred Hearts Academy

Oct 09, 2013

Featured Array: Sacred Hearts Academy

From all across the globe, people flock to the Hawaiian Islands year-round seeking its warmth and sunshine to fuel their seaside getaways. But for residents living on the Islands, the sun’s constant exposure provides a thriving source of power where solar energy simply makes sense.

Built in 1907 as one of Hawaii’s oldest and most prestigious all-girl private schools, Sacred Heart Academy’s energy costs have been in excess of $350,000 in recent years, since Hawaii suffers from the highest energy prices. Fed up with the ever-increasing cost of fossil fuel-based energy, Sacred Heart Academy traded in demanding utility electricity prices for a sun-powered alternative that would lower its bills and make the most of the area’s abundant sunshine.

Enlisting the help of Hawaiian Energy Systems (HES) Sacred Hearts Academy installed a 243kW solar array. Prior to the installation, HES performed an energy audit on the campus and proposed a complete lighting (LED) retrofit in addition to the array in order to further reduce the school’s energy cost burden.

To help fund the large project, HES offered a 10-year operational lease (requiring no capital investment), which made solar affordable for the non-profit school.

While initial designs for the project included use of a central inverter, HES uncovered serious design flaws since the inverter’s manufacturing warranty could not withstand Hawaii’s harsh environmental conditions, specifically corrosion. Additional concerns of safety, maintenance, and aesthetics also forced HES to question the use of a central inverter. Ultimately, they designed the system using Enphase M215 Microinverters.

“Enphase provided us with an approach we felt comfortable taking back to our customer,” said Chris Brashear, vice president of Sales and Marketing for Hawaiian Energy Systems, Inc. “Sacred Heart’s Board of Directors was also confident with changing to a solution that now included a reliable, 25-year warranty.”

Ideal for Hawaii’s people-friendly but technology-punishing weather, the Enphase System provided corrosion protection, a longer warranty, advanced production monitoring and a simpler installation design.

Concerns of safety, from a design and installation perspective as well as long-term power production, posed serious issues when it came to bringing solar power onto the school’s campus. With the Enphase System, HES trusted the microinverters’ rooftop location to generate AC power at a safe distance from the students, with no high-voltage components near classrooms or playgrounds. Additionally, due to the smart diagnostic and production monitoring capabilities of Enphase’s web-based Enlighten monitoring software, alerts will be sent to both HES and the school should any problems occur.

Sacred Heart Academy’s new solar array and monitoring system will also be integrated into the school’s curriculum as a teaching tool for renewable resources – a win-win for educators and students.

Comprised of Enphase M215 Microinverters matched with 240BW Centro Solar CP6 modules, the new array reduces energy costs by 33%, leading to significant long-term savings.

System Summary

Client: Sacred Hearts Academy

Location: Honolulu, HI

System Installer: Hawaiian Energy Systems, Inc.

System Size: 243kW DC

Modules: 240W Centro Solar CP6

Installation: 1,048 M215 Microinverters

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