Desert masterpiece Taliesin West is pursuing the dreams of a mastermind. With a mission to honor its founder, The Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation inaugurated a new 250 kw solar photovoltaic (PV) power system donated by First Solar, which will help power the 75-year-old Taliesin West campus.
Energy efficiency consultant Big Green Zero has also joined forces with the foundation to turn Frank Lloyd Wright’s imagination into a manifestation.
“We are excited to have partnered with Big Green Zero and First Solar to complete the first phase of Energizing Taliesin West and are on track to making a world-famous National Historic Landmark site entirely self-sustaining,” said Sean Malone, CEO of the Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation.
An architectural game changer of the 20th century, Frank Lloyd Wright left behind a legacy of sustainability that sparked the interest to revamp Taliesin West’s campus.
“As we continue to move forward with this endeavor we remain consistent with the values of Taliesin West and advancing the Foundation’s mission to preserve and expand the heritage of Frank Lloyd Wright,” Malone said.
The commissioning marks the successful completion of the first phase of the Energizing Taliesin West initiative, a pioneering effort to transform the entire National Historic Landmark Taliesin West site into a net-zero energy customer, producing as much energy as it consumes annually.
An energy audit conducted by Big Green Zero found that Taliesin West’s nearly $200,000 energy bill could be eliminated through improving its lighting, insulation and climate controls and also generating renewable on-site energy, which is the focus of the comprehensive project.
Many local companies have donated materials and labor to make the project possible. Tempe-based First Solar designed the system and donated approximately 4,000 of its advanced thin-film solar panels as well as Engineering, Procurement and Construction (EPC) services.
Power-One donated an Aurora PVI-Central-250 kw inverter and the associated performance-monitoring equipment for the project, and Klondyke Construction donated electrical construction services.
Other local companies that contributed include Buesing Corp. (structural post installation), OMCO Solar (panel mounting structural materials), CLP Resources (structural and modular installation labor), Rummel Construction (site grading), Rapid (electrical equipment), Syntech (surveying), and Oldcastle (precast inverter pad). Other donors included Highway Safety Corp. (structural steel posts) and Olson Motor and Control Co. (electrical equipment).
The entire solar power system is engineered to provide maximum renewable energy with minimal impact. The ground-mounted First Solar PV system is expected to generate more than 500 megawatt-hours per year of emission-free electricity with no water or waste, displacing more than 300 tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of taking more than 50 cars off the road.
“We are very proud to be a part of this historic landmark, and we are confident the integration of clean solar power into Taliesin West will help advance the legacy of Frank Lloyd Wright and educate visitors from around the world about renewable energy,” said Jim Lamon, First Solar’s Senior Vice President of Engineering, Procurement and Construction and Operations and Maintenance.
Native cacti and other plant species, which were removed during construction, will be transplanted throughout the project site. Visible portions of the mounting system have been painted for blending into the desert environment. In addition, the solar modules at the site are covered by First Solar’s industry-leading, prefunded module and recycling program, under which the company will collect and recycle its modules at no additional charge.
“In the pursuit of energy efficiency, this is just the beginning,” said Bob Roth, CEO of Big Green Zero. “Our goal is to make Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West a Big Green Zero.”