A new 1-MW rooftop solar installation on the World Cruise Center at the Port of Los Angeles relied on a self-ballasted racking system to protect aging structures while offsetting increased electrical demands from an Alternative Maritime Power system that lights up docked cruise ships.
Of the five bidders vying for the $8.5 million contract in March of 2009, Los Angeles-based Martifer Solar was the apparent low bidder, but didn’t provide a bond in time, so the contract went to the next-lowest bidder, Cupertino Electric, Inc.
The port included two requirements in the design-build contract: It had to be a non-penetrating attachment system and produce at least 1,000 kW of DC power on 71,500 sq ft of cruise ship terminal rooftop.
Cupertino Electric Project Manager Meisa Kassis says those requirements led to the design of 16-in. by 16-in. pans anchored by concrete ballasts to house 5,140 monocrystalline photovoltaics.
“Because of the limited roof area, we used the higher efficiency monocrystalline modules,” Kassis says.
Phillip Sanfield, a spokesperson for the Port of Los Angeles, says the non-penetrating ballasting system was important to maintain the structural integrity of the 40-year-old building.
Once the design had been selected, staging and logistics became a challenge in the operating port. The port provided some indoor space for prefabrication to limit work on the rooftop where 42-in. tall, full-perimeter guard rails had been installed. However, crane picks had to be scheduled around days that cruise ships were not in port.
The project was the first phase of three phases in a five-year solar power generation initiative that could result in 10 MW annually using 1.16 million sq ft of solar panels at the port. Even that is just part of a planned 1.3 GW Solar LA Program planned for significant completion in 2020.