Community Solar is a model of solar energy development where a group of people own and benefit from a single solar array.
It’s a way to address the barriers to solar access that face:
- Renters & non-homeowners
- Those that cannot afford the cost of a residential solar installation
- Homes that are unsuitable for a solar installation.
Located on the Hands On Children’s Museum, the Hummingbird Project is one of the largest solar projects in Thurston County. It produces the electricity equivalent to power twelve homes. The energy is purchased by the museum and it’s value distributed to more than 80 participants and 14 nonprofits. The project is equipped with SolarEdge Monitoring, which you can view below.
Our new community solar project on Thurgood Marshall Middle School is open for Enrollment!
Local non-profits enrolled in the Hummingbird Project and received solar unit donations. The energy that is produced by the solar unit is donated to the nonprofit organization. Click on the logos below to learn about each nonprofit organization.
The Hummingbird Story
We chose to name the project “Hummingbird” because of a story told by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Professor Wangari Maathai.
The story begins with a forest being consumed by fire. All of the animals in the forest rush to safety, transfixed and frightened by the fire, except for the little Hummingbird. Flying to the nearest stream, the Hummingbird picks up tiny scoops of water to drop on the blaze, zooming back and forth as fast as it can. Larger animals, like the elephant, stand back and question the Hummingbird, “What do you think you can do? You’re too small and the fire is too big!” The Hummingbird responds without pausing, “I’m doing what I can.”
The Hummingbird Community Solar Project gives our community an opportunity to be hummingbirds.
The museum will use Hummingbird as a teaching opportunity for visitors. The OCS team participated in the museum’s annual Solar Days event where visitors engage in activities focused on the sun and solar energy. We brought our toy solar cars to demonstrate how solar energy can propel an motor. They worked great and the kids got a great visual of solar in action.
The Solar Installer
After a comprehensive bidding process, we selected Seattle-based installer A&R Solar to design and install the Hummingbird project. A&R has over a decade of solar experience including projects at the Thurston County Food Bank, Skokomish Community Center, and more than 1900 homes around Washington. A&R Solar’s workers received prevailing wage rates for their work on this project.
Sunpower 395 Watt Solar Panel
A super-efficient solar panels leads to more production per square foot, and these panels have built in P860 power optimizers that improve performance by up to 25%. The project features 301 of these high quality panels, which are manufactured in Hillsboro Oregon.
Hummingbird features web-based production monitoring so project participants and Museum visitors can watch the real time energy output. Hummingbird is projected to produce 129,600 kWhs of electricity each year, enough to power more than 12 homes.
Solaredge Three Phase Inverter
The 100 kW AC three phase inverter is reliable and meets high standards of electric grid safety requirements. We choose the extended 20 year warranty so the project is never at risk of an inverter failure.