University of Vermont

Students on the Lawn

Solar PV Surveying

by Richard P. Smith III '13, CEF Summer Intern


The first day of the UVM Campus Renewable Energy Feasibility Study began on May 31st with an overview of the solar PV survey. The plan for this survey is to address each university-associated building and note it's potential for a solar PV system. It is common practice for PV systems to be placed on roofs of buildings that are preferably south facing, but east and west facing roofs were also considered for this study. When surveying a building you consider the angle of the roof, what the roof is made of, the dimensions of the roof, and any possible obstructions either on or around the roof.

We covered a decent area today; most of central campus including west of the green and on the opposite sides of both Main St. and Pearl St., Trinity Campus, and Centennial Campus. We found that a lot of buildings are older in these areas or have slate roofs. Both of these qualities exclude a building from being PV considered. We are waiting to survey some of the flat roofed buildings and the larger parking lots. For these types of locations we can use aerial view maps to measure dimensions. Of the sites I personally surveyed today, Billings Lecture Hall on Main Campus and the Cottages on Trinity campus each had potential to provide project worthy amounts of power.

First Week of June – We met with Jack Honor, the CHA consultant we are working with on this project, to go over our progress and learn about the general layout of a solar PV system. We traced a setup diagram from modules to string set up to inverters to equations for fuses and wires.

The next day we started at the Miller Farm where we found lots of potential for Solar PV systems. There is a lot of roof space and also some potential for carport style cow shades. These carport mounts are about 12-feet tall solar PV mounts that are commonly installed over parking spaces in large parking lots. The Miller Farm had similar modeled structures used to shade cows that, with a little structural support, could provide a worthy amount of solar energy production. Next, we visited the BioResearch Complex  where there were a couple of fields that have potential for possible ground mounts, or even wind turbines. We completed the campus survey by exploring the sloped roofs around the Athletic and Redstone campuses. We found the U. Heights roofs to be sloped at an angle too extreme for PV mounting. Anything greater than 60 degrees is a no go; U. Heights roofs facing south were all 55 degrees. We completed most of our PV site surveying. The rest of the buildings have flat roofs and will be analyzed via satellite imaging. We are starting site reports at the end of the week. I am writing a report on Farrell Hall, on Trinity Campus, which could have a potential of up to about 100 kW.