Annapolis Renewable Energy Park “Solar Park” at Waterworks Park
A Solar Park, also referred to as a “solar farm,” or “solar garden,” is a vast array of solar panels that supply electricity to the power grid. They were formally known as photovoltaic (PV) power stations.
The 70-acre Annapolis solar park on Defense Highway at Waterworks Park was energized in June 2018. At the time of the Grand Opening, it was the largest brownfield solar project in the U.S. It is operated by Novis Renewables, LLC.
The Annapolis Solar Park is made up of 55,000 solar panels producing 12 megawatts of electricity each day (enough to power more than 2,500 homes). The power generated is supplied to the City of Annapolis, Anne Arundel County, and the Anne Arundel County Board of Education.
Solar power is a clean, safe, and renewable energy source. Annapolis is doing its part to contribute to the power grid while reducing local greenhouse gas emissions.
The park is neither visible from Defense Highway, nor neighboring communities, including the nearby Rolling Knolls community. There have been no noise or other complaints due to the solar park’s decisively remote location.
The Annapolis solar park sits on the site of a former landfill that accepted the City’s waste from 1951 until it was decommissioned in 1989. After decommissioning, the landfill was capped with an impermeable geomembrane material and earthen cover. Drainage controls were installed and a gas venting system was installed to release gases formed from decomposition of the landfill materials. The site became a “brownfield.” Brownfields are properties where redevelopment is complicated by the presence - or potential presence - of hazardous substances, pollutants or contaminants.
The City took a potential liability and turned it into an asset, producing inexpensive electricity, creating revenue, and reducing pollution.
The City of Annapolis is part of the Baltimore Regional Cooperative Purchasing Committee (BRCPC), which is an energy purchasing consortium and the largest purchaser of Baltimore Gas & Electric (BGE) power in Maryland. The City earns approximately $15,000 per year per megawatt of power capacity (except for the portion purchased by the City), plus $10,000 per year for lease of the land to the solar park operator. The City has a 20-year contract agreement with the developer. The City estimates that over the 20-year lease agreement, the solar park will generate $5 million and save taxpayers $1.7 million in energy cost savings.
The Annapolis solar park has served as an example and catalyst for other cities that are short on suitable space to locate solar parks. Of the 300 solar installations on landfills across the U.S, nearly 50 have been completed since 2019.
How do solar parks work?
Solar parks operate in much the same way that plants take in sunlight and convert it into energy through photosynthesis; solar farms use special technology to convert sunlight into electrical energy.
How long do solar farms last?
Solar panels wear out and become less efficient after about 25 years. However, even at reduced efficiency, a solar farm can operate for 30 to 40 years.
Is it dangerous to live near a solar farm?
No. Solar farms do not produce air or water pollution like fossil fuels or nuclear power plants. They aren’t noisy, don’t smell bad, and don’t block out scenery. However, like any power plant, they must remain fenced in to keep people away from high-voltage electrical equipment and to prevent damage to the solar arrays.
Does the Annapolis solar park have the ability to be used as a large pollinator garden?
Yes. Plans are underway in 2023 to plant portions of the Annapolis solar park with local/native pollinating plants.