Camana Bay has saved nearly $5,000 in electricity costs since the installation in September of 302 rooftop solar panels at its 89 Nexus Way corporate offices.

Paul Chivers, resource efficiency manager at Camana Bay developer Dart Realty, said the panels atop the 129,000-square-foot four-story building have generated 12.8 Megawatt hours since their commissioning, saving $4,805 in electricity bills.

The figures are on a par with the array’s first month of operation, which produced 6.873 Megawatt hours at a savings of $2,577. “We are encouraged by the results so far and still are refining to get the systems working with optimal efficiency.” Mr. Chivers said.

Defraying power costs

The results appear to bear out Dart Realty’s efforts to defray power costs throughout the multi-structure Camana Bay development, which includes four dedicated commercial office buildings. 

“Dart Realty has been analyzing costs and benefits in solar feasibility projects for Camana Bay’s major commercial buildings for the past few years,” the efficiency manager said. “Planning to adapt the first office building [89 Nexus Way] commenced in late 2013, with the system coming online in September 2014. The Nexus Way building opened in 2009 and houses Ogier, Citco and Dart head offices.

LEED Buildings

“Solar power is also an integral part of the design [at] 18 Forum Lane, Camana Bay’s newest commercial building,” he said. 

The 85,000-square-foot, four-story structure is scheduled to open in 2015, and will be the Caribbean’s first mixed-use – retail and commercial – building with a LEED Gold certificate.

LEED, Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a designation by the Washington-based U.S. Green Building Council, which rates buildings, homes and neighborhoods on efficient resource consumption. The “gold” award is second only to platinum on a four-level scale.

One member of the U.S. Green Building Council is Ray Johnson, president and founder of the US Solar Institute, a Florida based solar training college whose alumni make up Cayman Solar , the company that built the array, employing almost entirely Caymanian labor, at Nexus Way, also known as Block 8. “Dart Realty’s Camana Bay Block 8 … is actually the largest commercial rooftop in the country and only took a couple of weeks to complete,” Mr. Johnson said. 

Building Even Larger Systems 

The next project set to be installed in Camana Bay by Cayman Solar will also set a new record for the largest rooftop system on island again. “The Camana Bay Cinema will have over 500 panels making it a 135,000-watt system, which equals enough electricity to power over 20 homes every day.” says Johnson. We are very pleased to have Cayman Solar Powering Camana Bay.”

“Our team’s extensive experience in the industry coupled with constant continuing education from the US Solar Institute and support from Florida Solar One keeps Cayman Solar on the cutting edge of technology insuring we will always provide the most-powerful, highest efficient and longest lasting solar panel systems possible” he said. 

Impressive Annual savings

Cayman Solar projects annual savings on Block 8 electricity bills at $48,602. “We also provided a monitoring system so the owner can see the savings come in from a computer or smart phone,” Mr. Johnson said.

With many more projects like those completed at Block 8 scheduled for Camana Bay through 2017 Chivers is projecting over $250,000 will be achieved in Camana Cay annually.

The savings and contribution to a cleaner island both drive Dart Realty to get behind several more solar installations across their campus including the Cayman International School’s Arts and Recreation Center, all classroom buildings and the aquatic center. “The school will generate enough solar energy to nearly power itself and is scheduled to be completed within a few years. The savings across the CIS campus will exceed $150,000 annually” says Chivers.

Capital Investment Recovery 

Mr. Chivers said Dart invested more than $200,000 in 89 Nexus Way, which, Mr. Johnson said, would “recover the total capital investment in construction and development in less than five years.”

The system will last more than 20 years, he said, pointing out that span roughly equals the length of CUC’s government contract. “Over the useful lifespan of the rooftop installation, the owner’s profit is estimated over three times the original cost to build.”

Mr. Chivers did not name Camana Bay’s overall power requirements, or the extent to which the solar arrays had defrayed that demand, saying only that the projects are ongoing and the savings provided by Cayman Solar are impressive.

“We have not set a demand target for our solar. At present we are simply trying to reduce our load in locations, which makes sense as part of our overall energy-efficiency initiatives,” he said.

Cayman Solar Powering Camana Bay

Prior to the Nexus Way installation, Mr. Chivers said, designers had “already provided energy-saving elements, such as high-efficiency air-conditioning systems, tinted windows and shading to keep the building cooler.”

“Retrofitting this building with a solar array was the logical next step in cutting energy usage and ultimately costs to tenants.” 

Already, he said, a smaller solar project “on Market Street, across from Jessie’s Juice Bar, produces 23kWhrs a day. There are also 20 panels atop the parking structure at the corner of Forum Lane and Market Street that offset the power used by Camana Bay’s two electric vehicle charging stations which opened in 2012.

Finally, he said, at least three more solar projects will open in the immediate future: one at the Cinema, the Arts and Recreation Centre and the Classroom buildings at Cayman International School. “We are very pleased to have Cayman Solar Powering Camana Bay”