HomeCincinnati NewsCincinnati Zoo powers ahead with solar initiative, aiming for energy independence

Cincinnati Zoo powers ahead with solar initiative, aiming for energy independence

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Cincinnati, Ohio – The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens has started building what will soon be the biggest public urban solar array in the United States. This is a monumental step toward sustainability. A 2.8 MW Melink Solar array will be put on top of the Zoo’s Euclid Avenue parking lot. This big project started earlier this month. This creative array will not only give parked cars and buses much-needed shade, but it will also be a key part of creating clean energy for the Zoo and the area around it.

The Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Gardens started the solar power journey in 2011

A 1.56 MW solar array was put up over the Cincinnati Zoo’s main parking lot in 2011. This has allowed the zoo to often run without using any electricity from the grid. It looks like this new solar project will beat out the Vine St. array to become the biggest urban solar array. This will be a big step toward the Zoo’s big goal of using no energy at all by 2025.

Mark Fisher, the Vice President of Facilities and Sustainability at the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens, expressed enthusiasm about the project’s potential.

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“Solar technology, and our understanding of how to use it, have evolved dramatically since we erected our first solar array in 2006 on the Zoo’s education building. This new array is a good example of that. It will occupy less physical space but will generate almost twice as much power as the current array. Once it’s online, two thirds of the Zoo’s electrical needs will come from our parking lots,” said Fisher.

Additional solar panels will be given to the Zoo’s Community Solar Resiliency Program

The project isn’t just limited to the Zoo; extra solar panels will be given to the Zoo’s Community Solar Resiliency Program (CSRP). These extra panels, which add up to 165 kW, will make it easier to put up smaller solar systems in places like Avondale, East Price Hill, and Bond Hill. Fisher emphasized that the project was meant to help the community. He hopes that the solar panels will make people in the community and at the Zoo think about using solar energy in their own homes.

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The Zoo’s dedication to green living and natural energy doesn’t end when you leave the city. Its 600-acre farm in Warren County now has one of the biggest solar systems in Southwest Ohio on a very large part of it. This 30 MW array not only adds to the renewable energy supply in the area, but it also helps local companies be more environmentally friendly. Also, putting sheep on the land to graze this spring will help keep the soil healthy and cut down on carbon emissions from mowing.

As part of its whole-systems approach to environmental management, the Zoo wants to create a five-acre area for pollinators to live around the Warren County solar array. The goal of this project is to protect biodiversity and keep the environment healthy.

The Zoo also wants to use solar power in other countries. They hope to build a solar array for the South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO) in Kenya. This partnership shows that the Zoo is committed to conservation efforts around the world and promoting clean energy options all over the world.

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As the Cincinnati Zoo moves forward with its solar projects, it sets an example for other zoos and organizations around the world, showing that using renewable energy for a better future is possible and has many benefits.

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