Over the first week and a half of the Clean Energy Fund internship we have begun outlining the basic deliverables for the overall project and subsequently scheduling out the allotted work. The first few days consisted of meetings with both the UVM staff as well as the on-site CHA team members. I also met briefly with the construction team at the Miller Research Farm Equine Center to discuss the time frame for the solar installation.
For the feasibility study, the workload will consist of conducting multiple campus wide surveys. Each survey will consider a different form of alternative energy including photovoltaic (PV) installations, geothermal heating, wind turbine construction, and fuel cell implementation to name a few. For now, we are still in the midst of considering only the solar capabilities of all applicable UVM property.
My Equine Center installation duties will be relatively straight forward as all the surveying and design work is complete., All that remains to do is the actual installation of both the racking system on the roof and the solar modules. Construction will begin this week and we have mounted a time-lapse camera in the vicinity that will capture the progress of the installation over the course of the coming weeks. In addition to the camera’s documentation, I will be conducting interviews with the on-site installation team about the physical process of implementing a solar energy system into an existing electricity grid, and the complications that may arise during the process. Additionally, I will be providing a constant commentary on the progress of the project over the entirety of the installation.
The majority of my time over the past few weeks has been spent conducting the afore mentioned surveys to determine the eligibility of various buildings for PV installations and researching applicable incentives offered by the state of Vermont for renewable projects. I have learned how to quickly assess whether or not a solar installation would be efficient for a given building given the roof dimensions, roof type (sloped or flat), roof substrate, surrounding obstacles and obstacles on the roof itself. Additionally, we have looked at parking lots for possible canopy style solar arrays as well as open fields that could potentially house a ground-mounted installation.
After our first few rounds of surveying the most promising areas of campus for a PV installation thus far have included most of the residence halls on athletic campus, many of the gym facilities, the majority of the Miller Farm complex as well as a few larger buildings on Central Campus. This coming week we begin working on the final reports for the more promising locations as well as analyzing satellite photos for the flat roofed structures we could not see from the ground.