Historic solar at Greenergy Park
In 1981, Beverly High School was one of eight sites in the United States that then President Carter chose for a solar panel installation. Now called the Dr. John W Coleman Greenergy Park, the site is the only remaining one from that era and also includes a 10kW wind turbine. The original Greenergy Park consisted of 3,200 solar panels in two 50 kW arrays.
From October 1982 through September 1983, the system produced 102,379 kWh. The original cost was calculated to be $33 per watt, which is equivalent to a total cost of $33/watt x 100,000 watts, or $3.3 million.
Over the years, the PV system has needed ongoing maintenance to keep producing power. In 2004, the solar field was overgrown and required significant vegetation management. From 2004 to 2009, the inverters required repeated maintenance in order to keep operating, and the original inverters were replaced in 2009.
Several sets of solar panels have been replaced as part of on-going maintenance and new technology testing and integration. Existing panels were replaced in 1997 and in 2007 an additional string of panels were replaced with state of the art Evergreen Solar panels. In 2009 the system was tested with the help of a local solar engineer and assistance from the National Renewable Energy Lab based in Golden, Colorado and it was determined that the system was producing at greater than eighty-percent of its original designed output, an important achievement and testament to the operational longevity of solar photovoltaic systems.
This array is planned to be replaced with more efficient photovoltaic panels in 2021. More project information is available here.
Beverly High 1981 Solar Array Video Series
Green High School
The newly built high school (opened fall 2010) is designated as a "green school" and in September 2011 Massachusetts Clean Energy Center Director Andy Brydges said Beverly "set the standard" for other school districts. Combined with the panels on the hill, the 83-kilowatt rooftop array provides 15% of the building's electrical demands.