UMass Lowell has dramatically increased the amount of solar generated power with the completion of a new canopy solar panel array on the South Campus parking garage roof. This is just one of over 100 energy-saving projects at UMass Lowell to be completed by the end of 2017.
This project received the DOER Leading by Example Solar Canopy Grant of $150,600, which reduced the project cost to $1.2 million; increasing the economic effectiveness of this renewable energy asset.
A partnership of UMass Lowell, Division of Capital Asset Management and Maintenance (DCAMM), Constellation/Woodard & Curran for turnkey installation of the Solaire 200kW canopy PV array on the roof of the South Parking Garage.
The new 600-panel photovoltaic array sits atop a raised steel structure that is approximately 60 feet wide and 100 feet long, about one-third the size of a football field. The canopy included storm water management design features, with snow guards and gutters. Providing further benefits to campus commuters, a new electric vehicle charging station, with leads for two new vehicles, was added to the garage’s existing charging station as part of this project. Additionally, the new canopy array’s design concept has the added bonus of providing weather cover for approximately 50 parking spaces.
Construction started in July 2016 and took approximately four weeks for completion. With interconnection approval, commercial operation date was December 15th, 2016.
The canopy solar design has the advantage of not requiring development of additional land on the University grounds because we are utilizing the existing footprint of the garage roof. Campus growth in a dense municipality like Lowell is a challenge that the garage canopy design solves.
When the system was completed on December 2016 it was by far the most efficient of the five solar arrays on campus. The University’s four existing solar arrays, located on the roofs of Costello Gym, Bourgeois Hall, Leitch Hall and Dugan Hall, produce a combined 245 kW with their 1,172 panels.
This array will generate about 210,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of electricity each year for the buildings on South Campus. In so doing, PV will reduce the university’s electric bill by $28,000 and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 109 metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent— which is about how much 17 homes consume each year through electricity produced by the New England power grid.
By adding a canopy array, we are utilizing the existing garage and DOER recognizes the sustainability of this concept by awarding the grant. Since the University will be generating about 210 MWh/year, it will receive about $60,000 in annual revenue from Solar Renewable Energy Certificates (SRECs) for 10 years; and save an estimated $28,000 in power costs and $9,000 in demand tariffs from demand response.
This project support UMass Lowell’s Leading by Example efforts by reducing environmental impacts; increasing on-site renewables; and advancing electric vehicle charging stations.
By Paul Piraino, UML Energy and Sustainability Manager
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