UVM's first rooftop solar array project was initiated by Physical Plant in the late 1990s' while the roof on the central heating plant was being replaced. The large south facing roof was an ideal location for this demonstration project. Funding was initially provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's Million Solar Roofs program and by the Physical Plant Department. In 2013-2014, the array was upgraded and optimized with funding from the UVM Clean Energy Fund.
Technical Information about the Panels
The power generated by the panels helps offset the electricity needed to operate the Central Heating Plant. The panels are not enough to power all of UVM's energy needs but serve as a demonstration to educate the public about solar energy.
The panels are located on the south facing roof of UVM's Central Utility Plant in Burlington, VT (44N, 73W). Originally, there were forty-eight 120-Watt panels made by AstroPower, Inc. The solar cells are made from recycled semi-conductor wafers used in the computer industry. They cover 500 square feet of roof space. At the time of installation it was the largest solar array on any roof in Vermont. The total array is rated for 5,760 watts DC under Standard Test Conditions (1000 Watts/square meter). Actual AC output varies depending on factors such as atmospheric haze, inverter efficiency, and the incident solar angle of the season. This is enough power to light 250 energy efficient light bulbs (20 watts each). The average amount of energy these panels generate per day is 19 kilowatt-hours (kWh). In summer it can be more, and in winter it will be less, due to the number of daily sun-hours.