Here Comes the SUN Park

Dover Sun Park

The Silver Run Project isn’t the only facility designed and engineered to help strengthen The Diamond State’s electrical grid infrastructure with environmentally-friendly technology.

For the past five years, its sister site – Dover SUN Park – has been helping the state of Delaware meet its objective of increasing energy production from renewable resources.

As recently as 2014, more than 98% of electricity production in Delaware came from fossil fuels.

The 10-megawatt park began producing electricity in 2011 to help meet the state’s need for reliable, cost-effective and environmentally-sound sources of energy. Generating enough power to provide electricity for more than 1,500 homes, the park contributes significantly toward Delaware’s goal of producing 20% of its energy from renewable resources by 2019.

Solar Modules

When it entered service, it was among the largest utility-scale solar power plant in the Mid-Atlantic region. And it’s a workhorse:

  • The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the SUN Park offsets more than 12,000 tons of carbon dioxide emissions each year
  • In 2014, the SUN Park accounted for more than 33% of utility-scale solar capacity operating in Delaware.
  • Ultimately, the project will help Delaware reach its long-term goal of producing 65 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2050

Catching Some Rays

Resting on 103 acres in Dover’s Garrison Oak Technology Park, the park took six months to complete and created approximately 150 jobs for Delaware residents.

Dover SUN Park uses SunPower® tracker systems that follow the sun’s movement during the day, increasing solar energy capture by up to 25% over conventional fixed-tilt systems, while significantly reducing land use requirements. Additionally, the installation of SunPower® solar panels means the SUN Park is about 19% more efficient than if conventional panels were used.

SunPower Tracker System
SunPower® Tracker System

How Does Sunshine Become Electricity?

Here’s how solar energy works:

1Solar Panels

The panels are made up of photovoltaic (PV) cells, which convert sunlight into direct current (DC) electricity throughout the day.  This direct current is gathered by a system of wires to be delivered to on-site inverters.

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2Inverter

Inverters convert the DC electricity generated by the solar panels into 34.5 kilovolt (kV) alternating current (AC) electricity.  AC is the form of electricity that is predominantly transmitted across the electrical system, ultimately serving homes and businesses – and what’s available from a regular wall outlet.

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3On-Site Substation

From the 7 inverters at the SUN Park, the lower voltage AC electricity travels to the on-site substation, where it passes through a transformer that steps up the voltage to 69kV – suitable for efficient transmission on the regional electric system.

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4Regional Electric Transmission System

From the inverters, the electricity generated by the SUN Park enters the high voltage transmission system – the same regional system that the Silver Run Project is helping to make stronger and more reliable.  Once on the grid, electricity can efficiently move to where it’s needed to be stepped down to voltages suitable for consumption in homes and businesses.