Berkshire School Solar Field

Case Study Location:

Project Specs:

  • Location: Sheffield, MA
  • Certified Installer: FSR
  • Engineer of Record (EOR): GZA Environmental, Inc.
  • Helical Pile Specifications:
    – 1,024 MacLean Power Systems (MPS) Helical Piles
    – 5.563” x 0.258″ Pipe w/ one 16″ Dia. Helix on an 18.83′ Shaft
    – Depth of Helical Piles: 18.83′
  • Ultimate Load(s):
    – 14 kips (Compression)
    – 4.5 kips (Tension)
    – 3.0 kips (Lateral)

The Berkshire School Solar Field was to be built on an 8.25-acre site with soils ranging from loamy bog with cobbles to glacial till. The expected wind loads due to the large surface area of the solar panels meant that the foundation system would have to withstand substantial lateral loads. In addition, a rapid and simple installation was necessary in order to complete the project before school was back in session. For these reasons, helical piles were chosen for the solar foundation system. Helical piles also eliminated the need for concrete due to the fact that the brackets could be mounted directly to the pile extensions, which in turned saved time and money. FSR installed 1,024 custom manufactured 5.563” diameter piles with a single 16” helix. These piles were installed to an average depth of 12’ in order to achieve the loads specified by GZA Environmental.

There are many options for anchoring solar panels to the ground. Depending on site conditions, engineers will choose shaft piles, driven piles or helical piers. There are many advantages to using helical pile anchor foundations for solar panels. Using helical anchors eliminates the use of concrete, which saves on time. Also, there is there’s no excavation needed, which reduces the impact to your land. Another added benefit is that the helical piles can be permanently or temporarily installed. If you choose temporary, the piles can be extracted for reuse.