Sandbox Solar, your Colorado solar company, has had the opportunity to work on an incredible project to bring the City of Fort Collins closer to its sustainability goals. We are excited to announce that we have completed the 200 kW ground mount for the Waterglen Project in northeast Fort Collins!
This project was 100% locally done, with 18 local employees making it happen. It was a difficult journey to find the right space to develop solar in Fort Collins, and this project was a big step for Sandbox Solar.
Why Did We Begin this Project?
The goal of this project was to advance Fort Collins further toward a sustainable future and its goal of 100% renewable by 2030. If we want more solar in Fort Collins, our community needs to rethink how it views, plans, and permits solar projects. It has been difficult to develop solar in Fort Collins because of the lack of affordable space, and this project demonstrates how, with limited space, you can still successfully meet safety, zoning, and other requirements. We encourage neighbors to identify community open spaces where solar can be deployed such as flood plain areas, detention areas, parking lots, etc. We implore the City Council to audit and reevaluate the planning and development process for solar projects. As it stands, a small-scale solar development is treated the same way as a large apartment building. The length of time and the cost to deploy projects like these are too much and we will never achieve our renewable goal.
One method Sandbox Solar has been exploring is to combine solar and agriculture to save space. This unique pairing is similar to our work with Colorado State University’s ARDEC, where we planted crops under solar panels and then monitored their growth. This will provide local food and renewable energy for our communities.
As your local solar company in Fort Collins, the Waterglen Solar Project was a big step for us. It allowed us to showcase our engineering, development, and construction abilities that enable us to take on projects of all sizes.
How Does this Project Benefit Fort Collins?
This 200 kW array will provide enough energy for approximately forty homes. The power generated by these solar panels is specifically for the City of Fort Collins and will help the city move toward its sustainability goals.
We also ensured that the solar system would easily co-inhabit the space with the area’s native plants. This way there is a natural habitat for the native species, including bees and rabbits, without disruption.
There will also be wildflowers, shrubs, trees, and grass planted throughout areas to restore the natural habitat.
What Have We Learned About Colorado Solar?
The array demonstrates what can happen when the community supports the development of solar energy on unique and abstract parcels of land. Without community support, Fort Collins will not be able to obtain its Climate Action Plan goals.
A lot of the places where we could develop solar in the future include floodplain areas. Through the Waterglen Project, we have demonstrated that solar energy has minimal development impact in floodplain areas and neighborhoods.
Sandbox Solar, your Fort Collins solar company, is committed to fostering local community involvement with solar energy and continuing to provide the opportunity for more solar energy research. With projects like Waterglen, we can work toward providing even more economic benefits to the community, support renewable energy, and enable optimal land use in Fort Collins. Contact us with any questions or feedback about our Waterglen project.