Going Solar

Our First Big Step in the ForeverProject

Boyne Mountain is making strides in reducing the resort's environmental impact at every level of resort operations. We've established an organizing committee, methodology, and objectives to offset all on-site greenhouse gases, reduce dependence on fossil fuels, and invest in renewable energy. Our ForeverProject is about accountability and the understanding of environmental impacts through reporting and training, as well as the action to achieve our goals.

Last year, our resort upgraded the Menerga computer system in Avalanche Bay Indoor Waterpark to allow more control of energy usage, significant cost savings of electric and gas, and ultimately operate at a higher level of efficiency. Next on the ForeverProject timeline was the installation of a solar array at Boyne Mountain Resort. Well, it's been happening, and the project is nearing completion! The installation is located just north of the resort, across M-75, adjacent to the sports fields. 

We got a chance to chat with the CMS Energy subsidiary, who has been working with Boyne Mountain Resort on the project. They were able to answer a few questions, to help us better understand how solar panels work! Here is what we learned: 

The Interview

Can you tell me about CMS Energy and Boyne Mountain's goals for the ForeverProject?

We are partnering with Boyne Resorts to help meet their goal of reducing carbon emissions to net-zero throughout their North American operations by 2030. CMS is pleased to be a partner of Boyne's journey towards achieving sustainability goals.

How many solar panels make up this installation and how much energy does just one panel produce?

There are 4,316 panels, each producing 410 Watts of power. That comes to about 1.7 MegaWatts of total output.

What can you tell us about the size of this solar array installation and the level of impact it will have on Boyne Mountain's carbon footprint?

The size of the solar array is 1.7MW AC. For perspective, this installation would have offset about 11% of the total greenhouse gases from Boyne Mountain Resort in 2020.

What kind of effect does winter elements, like snow, have on solar panels?

Solar panels operate optimally under direct sunlight and cool temperatures. Therefore, snow and cloudy days reduce solar production. Keep in mind, the GHG offset calculated above takes into consideration snow and other weather impacts. 

Is there anything else that you would like to share with guests, employees, homeowners, and other resort visitors who are benefitting from the solar array installation?

Solar PV is a great way to reduce carbon footprint and generate electricity from the abundant natural resource -- the sun. The solar array project will also feature a pollinator garden with native plant species, that will further enhance the natural habitat at Boyne Mountain Resort.

Can I cook my morning eggs & bacon on a solar panel?

Not at night! Solar panels can heat up to approximately 35F over ambient temperature and an egg requires 158F to be cooked properly. So in general, not really unless it's a very hot day. And even then probably not safe to eat. 

Egsswald The Egg GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

You heard it here. Best to save your breakfast for your stovetop.

You asked, we answered

  • While it is true that MI doesn't get as much sunshine as California or Arizona, there is enough sunshine to make the project economically viable, while reducing the carbon footprint of Boyne Resorts by 11%

  • The solar array will generate tax revenue for the township over the life of the project. Additionally, it would be a great educational resource for local school districts. 

  • A pollinator garden with native species will be established underneath and around the solar panels to further improve the natural habitat. Additionally, there is no damage or permanent impact to the land. Once/if the solar array is retired, the land will be reestablished to its original state.

  • There is no battery backup included at this time. The grid will continue to supply power during times when solar array is not producing. We will surely consider batteries once costs come down. 

  • The grid will continue to supply power to the resort during times when solar is not producing.

  • The life span of solar panels ranges from 25-35 years and the panels will be recycled after that, with very few components reaching the landfill. 

  • The system is designed to meet American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) site structural design parameters to withstand expected wind and snow loads for the area. Panels have the potential to be damaged during a severe hailstorm but any damages would be addressed immediately and severe hailstorms are not expected at a high frequency.

  • A significant snow fall could reduce the output of the solar array but panels are >3 feet off of the ground and any accumulation on the panels typically melts within a day or so after snowfall. In addition, panels installed in this array are bifacial meaning they can collect power on the backside which is increased with snow on the ground.

  • There are no batteries included at this time. 

  • The grid will continue to supply power during times when solar is not producing.

Check Out These Cool Progress Pics

Thanks to CMS Energy for your time and hard work this summer. Check back often to learn more about the ForeverProject as we work towards a net-zero carbon footprint by 2030!