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Lightstorm Entertainment's AVATAR Solar Project

Location

Manhattan Beach, CA

Description

Stellar Energy installed a 959.92 kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic (PV) power system for Lightstorm Entertainment Inc. The solar energy system is composed of three separate roof-mounted solar electric arrays covering a total of 212,481 square feet of roof space. It consists of 3,692 solar modules, 3 Solectria Inverters, and an internet-based DECK monitoring system to measure and display performance. 

James Cameron_Stellar_Energy_Solar_Roof 

“We chose Stellar Energy for this solar project not only for their proven track record, yet because they knew how to navigate the complexities of our unique situation. Their solar analysts and engineers understood our goals and provided the most efficient design for maximum solar performance.” 

 -James Cameron, Director of AVATAR

Click here to see high resolution images of this solar project


Challenge

Lightstorm Entertainment Inc. (LEI) wanted to make a significant statement by powering 100% of the filming and production of the AVATAR sequels with solar energy. This solar project took place at MBS Media Campus and required cooperation between LEI, The Carlyle Group; the property's owner and Raleigh Studios; the property manager.

Working at a busy studio where some of today's most popular television shows and movies are produced required accommodating the client's security, privacy, and noise restriction policies to minimize disruption. Additionally, there was very limited ground space to place the inverters and the solar modules were to be installed on the studio's barrel shaped roofs.

Solution

First, Stellar Energy helped Lightstorm Entertainment Inc. extrapolate the amount of energy the AVATAR productions would consume over the 5 year period, based on historical energy data at this site, as well as historical energy used for the production of the first 'Avatar' film. Then they were able to orchestrate a solution that satisfied all of the stake holder's requirements to all construction to begin.

The installation teams carefully coordinated with the client to ensure the roof top work did not interfere with the active filming of television and movies. To eliminate any noise on the roof, installation crews would stop and start on different roofs as directed by the studio.

Stellar Energy's engineers designed a solution with the most efficient solar modules available and a custom, elevated racking system to accommodate the non-standard roof. This custom racking design enabled the maximum amount of solar modules to be installed at a 15 degree tilt and point exactly 180 degrees south, in order to provide peak solar production. To maintain the studio's limited parking spaces, the inverters were installed safely on the roof.

Benefits

Stellar Energy's designed the system to generate 1,500,000 kWh per year and is backstopped by a performance guarantee, allowing the filmmakers to achieve their goal of a 100% solar powered pair of films. The environmental benefits produced by the system include offsetting over 1,034 metric tons of carbon dioxide every year, which is the equivalent to the annual greenhouse gas emissions from 203 passenger vehicles. (EPA Calculator)

Download the Case Study (pdf)

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Specifications

  • Energy Capacity: 960 kW DC
  • # of Modules: 3,962 PV Modules
  • Type of Mount: Custom roof mount
  • Type of Inverter: 1- Solectria SGI300KW and 2-Solectria SGI266KW
  • Monitoring System: DECK Monitoring

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