Turquoise Solar

The project site for our 2020 Utility-Scale Project of the Year, as voted by the Solar Builder readers, is located in the Reno Technology Park, approximately 15 miles northeast of the city of Reno. The Park is a 2,200-acre master planned industrial park shared between Apple, which owns approximately 1,600 acres, and Turquoise Solar, which owns approximately 600 acres. Apple’s major Nevada data center campus is located in the Park with over 300 MW of load. Upon completion, Turquoise will provide power via Nevada Energy, allocated for Apple’s data center through their Green Energy Rider Agreement with NV Energy.

Turquoise sits on approximately 180 acres of igneous rock and ledge at a mountainous base in Washoe County, Nevada. After numerous failed trials from other solar installation companies who attempted to drive their pile system into the site’s rocky terrain, TerraSmart was hired when the project’s owner, Greenbacker Renewable Energy Company, said to call TerraSmart. Known for a proven ability to forge into arduous soils with a proprietary ground screw foundation, TerraSmart was hired to not only install the solar racking foundation, but to manufacture and provide all of the ground screws and the legs that sit atop of them to hold up the solar module racks. All of these components were decided to be hot-dip galvanized in order to protect the screws during a rough installation process and the legs that sit atop of them from long term corrosion.

It is a massive, standout project — but one planned on nearly impossible land for a solar array. Turquoise sits on approximately 180 acres of igneous rock and a ledge at a mountainous base.

The project required a lot of galvanizing capacity and and a sometimes unrealistic schedule in order to keep up with the multiple installation crews on the site. The galvanizer teamed up with TerraSmart to work overtime, weekends and sometimes holidays in order to keep up. The galvanizer at times had to spread the workload out to secondary plants within their company to keep up with the deadlines.

This rocky climate and arid climate called for the most durable coating system available to the solar utility market. Nothing other than hot-dip galvanizing could have stood up to the task of literally being drilled into rock and then still be expected to protect steel for decades to come. The legs attach the solar racks to the screws in the ground, holding up all the weigh of the racking and panels for the years to come. The legs will be exposed to the desert heat, sand and rock. The hot-dip galvanized zinc coating will be the only thing protecting them from the environmental threats on the climate.

Because of the very close working relationship of TerraSmart with the galvanizer, this project was able to become a reality. The demanding project in terms of schedule, galvanizing turnaround, difficulty of installation and challenging terrain make this utility scale solar project a one of a kind. The success of this partnership will deliver power to one of Apple's largest data centers for decades to come.

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