Solar Farm at Naval Air Station

About the project

The solar facility at Naval Air Station Oceana in Virginia Beach, Virginia became operational in December 2017. This 18-megawatt solar farm features close to 179,000 ground mounted solar panels that power approximately 4,400 homes during peak production.

Erosion Control Solutions for the Oceana Solar Farm

This solar farm sits on approximately 93 acres of land. Clearing, grading and developing a site of this size requires careful attention to erosion control, stormwater management and geotechnical issues.

One of the first erosion control measures to be installed on any site is silt fence. This Virginia solar farm required a black silt fence with welded wire reinforcement and steel fence posts.

Recyclex Turf Reinforcement Mat (TRM) was installed in the ditch channels. Large solar farms like Oceana dig networks of ditches that convey runoff to the stormwater ponds. The ponds detained stormwater during construction and were converted to permanent stormwater ponds when construction was completed. 

Recyclex Turf Reinforcement Mat was approved for the channel lining for three critical reasons:

  • it was more cost-effective than competing turf reinforcement mats
  • it does not float because the specific gravity is greater than one
  • the light green hue absorbs light better than the dark green alternative

Better light penetration aids in establishing vegetation, another critical objective for solar farm construction.

Grass Seed for Solar Construction

Solar farms are graded flat so that the ground is even for the solar panels. If the ground is not properly stabilized and vegetated, water flows over the surface rather than infiltrating into soil. This is one of the biggest challenges for solar developers in Virginia.

In order to fully vegetate and stabilize the site, a custom seed blend with a native grass seed was required. The custom native grass seed mix was formulated by the United States Navy, Amec Foster Wheeler’s environmental engineering team and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). We worked closely with the engineers and general contractor to supply a cost-effective custom grass seed with native varieties that were readily available. The resulting mix included Virginia Wild Rye, Beaked Panic Grass, Florida Paspalum, Purple Top and Little Bluestem.

Geotextiles and Additional Products

Geotechnical solutions for Oceana Solar Farm included Bi-Axial Geogrid and 6oz Nonwoven Geotextile Fabric. These geotextiles stabilized the roads and stock yard.

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