Contributing Solar Energy to Southeast Texas
Ulteig was selected to partner with Wanzek Construction, Inc. to begin the design, construction and energization of a solar farm near Houston, Texas. With a capacity of 350 megawatts AC (460 MW DC), the Red Tailed Hawk solar project is one of the largest solar developments for Wanzek and the project owner and renewable energy developer, ACCIONA Energía. Upon energizing the more than 850,000 solar modules, enough electricity will be produced to meet the needs of 66,500 Texas households.
Clean energy is finding new inroads throughout Wharton County, Texas, thanks to the efforts of renewable energy developers such as the Red Tailed Hawk project owner, ACCIONA Energía. By partnering with developers and contractors like Wanzek on yet another solar project, we are able to help establish new ways of powering homes and businesses with clean energy in Texas and beyond.
Expanding Alternative Energy Sources
ACCIONA Energía collaborated with Wanzek, who called on Ulteig’s experts to aid in establishing the best possible infrastructure for the Red Tailed Hawk solar farm. The multi-discipline design team completed the design scope which enabled Wanzek to begin construction and implementation with the utmost stability, safety and reliability.
Our Solar team started with a preliminary site layout, which ensured the nameplate capacity required for the project was able to be produced. The location of ACCIONA Energía’s Red Tailed Hawk project is near Houston, at an ideal Point of Interconnection to connect to the grid without excessive additional steps or infrastructure required. The design utilized 16 34.5 kV underground circuits routed to a large substation. The substation required a design with two buses and two transformers, stepping voltage up to 345 kV. Additionally, a 4.6 mile 345 kV transmission line connects to a nearby local utility substation.
Our civil team worked with Wanzek and ACCIONA Energía to develop an optimized layout that met numerous constraints, including accommodations for county drainage infrastructure and impacts from a potential wind project. The layout needed to consider numerous optimizations such as skew angle to align with existing boundaries and roads, inverter balancing, directional bore routes and messenger system detailing to coordinate with the tracker design — all while still meeting stringent flood depth criteria. This resulted in a strategic layout that met project requirements in a confined area.
“The Red Tailed Hawk project was unique as it has numerous large county-managed drainageways that intersect the project,” said Zak Grabowski, PE, Ulteig’s Engineering Supervisor of Civil Renewables. “Working with our Solar PV team, we created a layout that would meet all of the constraints while not having any adverse hydrology impacts offsite. This multidisciplinary approach within Ulteig allowed our teams to quickly evaluate options and move to new solutions.”
Along with designing and planning during the early stages of the Red Tailed Hawk development alongside the project owner, we are now able to provide consultative assistance and additional renewable energy services during construction and energization of the solar farm.
Focusing on the Outcomes
Thanks to an established, trusted partnership with Wanzek, we were able to translate goals into actionable items and take steps to move the Red Tailed Hawk project forward. The project site that was established will enable long-term solar generation capabilities throughout El Campo, TX.
By being able to preemptively answer questions and provide guidance to Wanzek during design, planning and construction, our consultative renewable energy services have proven to be a valuable asset in the outcome of the Red Tailed Hawk solar project.
Martin Padula, Ulteig’s Associate Director of Energy Solutions, noted how success on this project was made possible by collaboration and existing partnerships: “By leveraging the lessons learned from the previous relationship between the Owner, Contractor and Ulteig, the full team was able to effectively collaborate and seamlessly work together to create an efficient design and an economical project,” Padula said. “While the community benefits are clear, the lingering effects of the solar development will be felt throughout Wharton County for years to come.”
The Red Tailed Hawk solar farm development has created more than 600 jobs during peak construction and is expected to energize in 2024, where it is projected to meet the needs of 66,500 Texas households. This will set the stage for increased growth and development in Southeast Texas and will enable EPCs such as Wanzek to begin new projects throughout the state.
Our breadth of knowledge and range of renewable energy services became key components to the solar project’s success. With established experience in the Texas market, we are looking forward to continuing our efforts to foster cleaner and more sustainable renewable energy infrastructure.