Renewable energy is taking off in one of the United States’ most pristine places. Yosemite National Park is now home to the largest solar array in the entire U.S. National Park System. The brand new, 672-kilowatt system in the park is said to provide about 12 percent of the park’s power needs.

The array has been installed by Suntek, which designed the system that contains 2,800 solar PV panels. The system consists of a 500 kilowatt (kW) solar canopy over a parking lot, a 100 kW rooftop array on a warehouse and a 72 kW wall mounted array, all located within the park's maintenance and administrative complex.

In all, the installation cost $4.5 million and is expected to save the park $50,000 a year on energy costs. Over the next five years Yosemite will receive $700,000 in energy rebates to offset the cost of installation.

By putting the solar panels in the park's parking lots and other maintenance facilities, it seems like Yosemite officials have struck a good balance. There aren’t solar arrays on the pristine half dome or the other amazing landscapes in the park, but in some of the less pristine spots, the harvesting of green energy is taking off. Seems like a plan that makes sense.

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Also on MNN: A primer on Yosemite National Park

Solar power shines in Yosemite
Solar power has come to Yosemite National Park and is expected to provide about 12% of the park's power needs.