First Two Weeks: PV Surveying

by Ryan Darlow '12, UVM Clean Energy Fund Intern

I have learned a lot since the start of the Clean Energy Fund internship two weeks ago. The first days began with meetings so that all the interns could meet one another as well as the UVM and CHA employees that we would be working with. Clough Harbour and Associates  (CHA) is an engineering firm that UVM selected to work on the project.  After being introduced to what the internship would entail, the schedule and deliverables of the project were laid out. The overall goal of this study is to create a comprehensive report that highlights the ideal locations for renewable energy on UVM’s campus. This report will consider several types of renewable energy systems in order to aid in developing renewable energy programs at UVM. The first type of renewable energy that will be analyzed is photovoltaic solar or PV. We will begin by surveying all the buildings on UVM’s campuses and their surrounding parking lots or open spaces.

Since meeting with Jack Honor, the project manager from CHA, we have toured Central Campus, Trinity Campus, Centennial Campus, Redstone Campus, Athletic Campus, Miller Research Complex, and Bio-Research Complex in order to survey buildings and land for PV installation. The buildings on these campuses that have sloped roof surfaces can be surveyed from the ground, but those with flat roofs are being surveyed using satellite images. We learned that buildings that have slate roofs or roofs that are too steep (slope greater than sixty degrees) are too difficult, or are not at an optimal angle to install PV panels on. Also, buildings that are historic are too hard to be permitted for solar so they are generally not good candidates either. Ideal roofs are those that are sloped and facing the south with no obstructions. Sloped roofs have a larger capacity per square foot that flat ones because they can have the panels sloped at the ideal angle to face the sun and still maintain a tight spacing.  We also learned that carports can be installed over long continuous parking areas that provide additional PV potential for adjacent buildings.

As a result of our surveying it was determined that many of the buildings on Centennial and Central campuses are not suitable for PV installation. However, many of the residence halls on Athletic, Trinity, and Redstone Campuses have lots of potential for PV. Additionally the library, theater, and gym complex are extremely well suited for PV, and will have reports written about them. The Miller Research Farm Complex was also found to have great PV potential, to the point where it may be able to be energy-neutral (producing as much power as it consumes). Many of the structures in the Bio-Research Complex were not very well suited for PV; however, the adjacent fields would be great locations for PV and maybe wind power. Several of UVM’s large parking lots are also good locations for carports, as well as many of its smaller lots adjacent to buildings on all of its campuses.  As a result of the surveys, we will begin writing reports for those locations that are best suited for PV. These reports will outline basic costs, installed capacity, and other considerations required for the feasibility study.