Solar Farm at Naval Air Station

A solar farm at Naval Air Station Oceana powers almost 4,500 homes at peak production.

Project Details

Sector: Energy, Heavy Civil

Location: Virginia Beach, VA

Partners: Brent Scarbrough & Company, Amec Foster Wheeler, Wood Group

Critical Products: Bi-Axial Geogrid, Nonwoven Geotextile Fabric, Native Seed Mix, Temporary and Permanent Erosion Control Blankets

Read More: Dominion Energy News Release

About the project

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

Site Work 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 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 detain stormwater during construction and were converted to permanent stormwater ponds when solar construction was completed. 

Recyclex TRM 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.

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 the soil. 

The custom Native Seed Mix was formulated by the Navy, Amec Foster Wheeler’s environmental engineering team and the Virginia Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ). Colonial Construction Materials worked closely with the engineers and general contractor to supply an affordable custom seed with native varieties that would be readily available. The resulting mix included Virginia Wild Rye, Beaked Panic Grass, Florida Paspalum, Purple Top and Little Bluestem.

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

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