National Nuclear Security Administration

Nevada National Security Site finishes solar array and begins era of net-zero energy buildings

December 7, 2018

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The Mercury Solar Project at Nevada National Security Site.
The Mercury Solar Project at Nevada National Security Site.

The Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) inaugurated the Mercury Solar Project late last month and moved it further down the path of sustainability, giving NNSA its first net-zero-energy building.

 “The solar project demonstrates a practical application of technologies that can make facilities sustainable and more cost effective over the long term and provides an example of private-public partnership within the Department of Energy (DOE),” said James McConnell, Deputy Associate Administrator for the Office of Safety Infrastructure, and Operations.

Generating 424 kilowatts of power and using existing infrastructure, the solar array is a commendable step in NNSS’s long-term modernization plan that puts an emphasis on sustainable buildings. 

A new energy-efficient Mercury campus is the keystone of the sustainability plan. Mercury provides mission support functions to the National Laboratories and other site visitors who conduct experimental activities at the site.

New Mercury buildings are being designed as High Performance Sustainable Buildings with LEED Gold and net-zero energy design criteria. NNSS’s Fire Station No. 1, for example, uses less electricity in a year than the solar array produces, allowing the site to designate it as a net-zero building. In fact, extra power generated from the solar array will also enable the first new building on the campus to count as a net-zero energy facility. Construction on that facility will begin in January.

“The solar array supports the goal of creating enduring, modern, and technologically advanced facilities that will enable and support DOE’s mission activities for decades into the future,” said Jacob Huffines, NNSS’s support facilities and infrastructure program manager.

The solar project was a collaboration between the DOE Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy; the National Renewable Energy Laboratory; NNSA’s Office of Safety, Infrastructure, and Operations; NNSA’s Nevada Field Office; and NNSS’s Management and Operating contractor, Mission Support and Test Services, LLC.