Cincinnati Zoo Breaks Ground on Largest Publicly Accessible Urban Solar Array in the U.S.

Posted February 14, 2024

New array will help the Zoo surpass its already-ambitious net zero energy goals

CINCINNATI (February 14, 2024)Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden broke ground earlier this month on a 2.8 MW Melink Solar solar array that will provide shade for cars and buses in its Euclid Ave parking lot while generating power for the Zoo and its neighbors! The Zoo has enjoyed many days “off the grid” since it installed a 1.56 MW solar array over its main parking lot in 2011.  This additional array, which will steal the title of largest publicly accessible urban solar array in the country from the Vine St. array, will move the Zoo closer to its goal to be Net Zero by 2025.

euclid lot array | Zoo Solar Project 2024 B-Roll.mp4 | Cincinnati Zoo’s Solar Story (pdf)

“We have big plans for solar in 2024,” said Mark Fisher, Cincinnati Zoo’s VP of facilities and sustainability. “Solar technology, and our understanding of how to use it, has evolved dramatically since we erected our first solar array in 2006 on the Zoo’s education building. This new array is a good example of that.  It will occupy less physical space but will generate almost twice as much power as the current array. Once it’s online, two thirds of the Zoo’s electrical needs will come from our parking lots.”

Extra solar panels will also be shared.  Instead of paying to ship a half-empty crate of panels to the Zoo, extra panels were ordered to fill the container. The 165 kW of panels will be donated to the Zoo’s Community Solar Resiliency Program (CSRP) and used to install arrays in Avondale, East Price Hill, and Bond Hill.

“Our goal is to share the benefits of solar power with the community,” said Fisher. “In addition to providing power and building smaller arrays at churches, community centers, and schools around town, our hope is that just seeing, and parking under, our big arrays will inspire Zoo visitors to install solar panels at home.”

The Zoo’s sustainable energy efforts go beyond city limits.  A large portion of its 600-acre farm in Warren County is now home to one of the largest solar arrays in Southwest Ohio.  The renewable energy generated by this 30 MW array will be bought by companies in the region to help them reach their sustainability goals.  Grazing sheep will be introduced this spring to keep the soil in this part of the farm healthy for production and to eliminate mowing emissions. For the health of the ecosystem, the Zoo will plant five acres of pollinator habitat on the land surrounding this solar array.

Other solar projects planned for 2024 include the installation of an array for the South Rift Association of Land Owners (SORALO) in Kenya. The Zoo has partnered with SORALO for over a decade to realize shared coexistence goals and is excited to contribute a much-needed source of renewable energy for the community.

Cincinnati Zoo & Botanical Garden opens at 10 a.m. and closes at 5 p.m. daily. Visit to plan a visit or to learn more about the Zoo’s commitment to sustainability.

Solar Array Euclid
Solar Array Euclid