One of the largest theme park companies in the United States recently announced their intention to build the largest-ever renewable energy installation in California.
In the process, they highlighted the continued need for proper planning to prevent subsurface damage during renewable energy projects.
Six Flags Entertainment Corporation, in partnership with Solar Optimum and DSD Renewables, have partnered to install a 12.37-megawatt solar carport and energy storage system at Six Flags Magic Mountain in Los Angeles. The project will rank as the largest single-site commercial renewable energy project in California, and largest solar project allocated toward a for-profit organization in the United States, Six Flags said in a press release.
“Here in California, innovation and climate action go hand-in-hand – our success as America’s economic powerhouse and the world’s fourth largest economy is built on our ambitious transition to a cleaner, greener future,” said California Governor Gavin Newsom. “Six Flags’ commitment to clean energy is the type of work that will power our future and ensure our kids have a healthy planet to call home.”
The Six Flags Magic Mountain solar installation will be a 12.37-megawatt solar carport built over the main guest parking lot. It will feature a battery storage system producing 1.958 megawatts of power with 7,886.3 kilowatt hours (kWh) of capacity that can be deployed daily.
The installation is expected to produce 20.8 million kWh of energy annually, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 2,874 homes and 1.79 million smartphones charged. Six Flags says that it will be able to offset the entirety of its park’s energy usage with solar power thanks to this project.
“This is a thrilling day for Six Flags as we advance our commitment to environmental stewardship, substantially increasing solar power generation capacity at our parks,” said Jason Freeman, Six Flags Vice President of Operations, Public Safety, Engineering & Maintenance. “Six Flags has placed a high priority on efforts to improve and protect the environment, leading the way for theme park companies around the world and capturing the attention of other private organizations that also have the power to drive solar projects.
“By partnering with experts like Solar Optimum and DSD Renewables, we can continue to improve our environmental programs with additional waste, water and energy reduction targets and initiatives.”
Alternative power is slowly, but steadily playing a larger and more important role in electricity generation in the United States.
According to data compiled by the Energy Information Administration, about 4,243 billion kWh of electricity were generated at utility-scale electricity generation facilities in our country in 2022.
About 22% (913 billion kWh) of this electricity generation was from renewable energy sources. This represents a roughly 2% increase from 2021. The EIA forecasts this trend continuing, estimating that renewables will make up about 23% of our electricity generation in 2023 and 26% in 2024.
Wind power accounted for about 10% (435 billion kWh) of the electricity generated by renewable energy sources. Hydropower was about 6% (262 billion kWh) while solar was about 3% (146 billion kWh).
The EIA estimates that an additional 58 billion kWh of electricity generation was from small-scale solar photovoltaic systems in 2022.
As renewable energy sources become more viable options for electricity generation, we will continue to see more and more construction projects related to the infrastructure of these power sources. And GPRS will continue to be an industry leader in providing the most accurate results when locating utilities, scanning concrete, inspecting sewer and water pipes, and 3D laser scanning sites.
John Incorvaia, GPRS Market Segment Leader for Renewable Energy & EV Charging, explains that when we are called to a solar panel installation it’s usually to ensure there are no utilities buried where the panels are to be placed. Additionally, we’re looking in the trench path where new lines will be placed between the solar array and any buildings or other structures that they will power.
“We see these projects a lot,” Incorvaia said. “It’s a lot of scanning, it’s basically a full site scan.”
While we aren’t currently working on the Six Flags’ installation, GPRS has a long history of supporting renewable energy projects.
Our Project Managers complete roughly 2,500 renewables jobs a year, including 350-400 solar installations.
“We have that experience, that national footprint,” Incorvaia said. “A project of the magnitude of the Six Flags installation, for example, we’d be able to dedicate multiple team members to it. Specifically, our California team has a lot of experience doing a lot of these solar carports at large healthcare facilities or schools. We’ve also done some at malls, where you’re talking about covering thousands of parking spaces with overhead panels .”
Whether you’re installing a solar panel, installing a new EV charging station, plotting a wind farm, or renovating an existing structure, breaking ground without first having a highly trained technician scan the ground for subsurface obstructions carries tremendous risk to your project’s schedule and budget, as well as the health and safety of those performing the task.
There’s also your reputation to consider. Incorvaia noted that high-profile projects such as Six Flags’ solar carport will be under the microscope of both the press and the general public.
“It’s a very high-profile project, so anything good or bad that happens with it is going to be publicized,” Incorvaia said. “The last thing you want to hear is that a major utility strike occurred at Six Flags when they were installing solar. That would be a big deal.”
GPRS’ utility locating services involve the use of ground penetrating radar (GPR) and electromagnetic (EM) locating technologies to detect and map power, gas, water, and various other types of buried utility lines in an area where groundbreaking activities are planned.
Our Project Managers are equipped with state-of-the-art technology as well as industry-leading training in the Subsurface Investigation Methodology, or SIM. Through this process, they receive 320 hours of field training and log 80 hours of classroom training where they tackle real-world scenarios in a safe and structured environment. This allows them to accurately interpret the readings provided by GPR scanners and EM locators.
But GPRS is more than just a utility locating and precision concrete scanning company. Our 3D laser scanning, video pipe inspection, leak detection, and mapping & modeling services help clients Intelligently Visualize The Built World™ no matter the size or complexity of their project.