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Projects Updates for key objective: 3.2 Expand On-Campus Solar Energy Production

  1. eweek announcement

    Associated Project(s): 

    Sustainable Issues and Opportunities for Handling End-of-Life PV Modules

    According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, solar power is the fastest-growing energy source in the U.S. and this growth will continue to rise. At the moment, only a few states have adopted solar PV end-of-life handling policies. Thus, a lot of modules may end up in landfills. The panel discussion will be on barriers, policies, and sustainable opportunities for end-of-life PV modules.

    October 22, 9:30–11 am

    Jennifer Martin • Illinois Sustainable Technology Center

  2. Mailbag solar article: Suggestion for UI solar panels

    "Why doesn't the company installing the solar panels at U of I put them over the parking lot? I would provide shade for the cars underneath and would eliminate having to kill whatever would be underneath them in the fields."

    The best option for building solar panels is ground-mounted, said Morgan White, the associate director for sustainability at the University of Illinois.

    "As part of our Climate Leadership Commitments the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a goal of producing at least 25,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) per year from on-campus solar," she said. "When we evaluated options for meeting this goal, rooftop solar, solar over parking areas, and ground-mounted solar were all considered. The most cost-effective option is ground-mounted solar, and it also allows for larger-scale installations.

    "For a sense of the scale, the two solar farms will be a total of 75 acres, while the largest parking lot on campus is less than 15 acres.

    "When installing solar panels over parking areas, there are additional infrastructure and labor costs to raise the solar panels above the ground level. Although we do not currently have any solar over parking areas, Facilities & Services is working with the Parking Department to evaluate potential locations for a pilot installation. We are also continuing to install rooftop solar on individual buildings."

    Solar panels are on the following five Urbana campus buildings:

    — Business Instructional Facility

    — the Activities & Recreation Center

    — Wassaja Residence Hall

    — University High School Gymnasium

    — Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Building.

    "I'd also like to emphasize that the ground-mounted solar panels do not harm the plants under them. After building the first Solar Farm, we learned that there was an excellent opportunity for growing useful plants under and around the panels," said White. "This is a great opportunity for creating a multi-functional ecosystem, with pollinator supportive plants and protected areas for small animals and insects."


  3. solar on parking estimated costs

    Associated Project(s): 

    Good morning Morgan,


    I have gathered the numbers that correspond to an acre of solar cover. 


    The estimate is that an acre of solar canopy could generate 760,536 kWh annually (this estimate takes into account the weather patterns of our location and possible shading/system inefficiencies).  


    I remember you saying that right now the University pays $0.05 per kWh.  Our solar farms are charged $0.045 per kWh that they generate.  This means that $0.005 is saved for every kWh generated.  That can be used to estimate that an acre of solar canopy would save roughly $3,800 per year.  


    I thought that I would also include the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s estimate for what a solar retailer would charge per kWh of electricity in our area: $0.036.  This would mean that $0.014 could be saved per kWh on a solar canopy system, or roughly $10,650 per acre.  


    Let me know what else I can find,


    Ryan Day

  4. Final project reports for Fall 2017

    The CEE 398 Project Based Learning and the Sustainability Minor's ENVS 492 Capstone students completed their nine fall 2017 reports.

    There were five projects completed for capstone partners:

    1. Energy Dashboards for Accenture
    2. Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for Johnson Controls
    3. Food Hub Study for The Land Connection
    4. Sensors and Green Buildings for CERL
    5. Biomass Life Cycle Cost Analysis (LCCA) for Chip Energy

    There were four other projects completed by CEE students:

    1. Rain Garden Design
    2. Solar and Green Roofs Analysis
    3. Food Waste to Energy
    4. ADA Sidewalk Repair Cost Analysis
  5. EGen SWATeam Meeting Minutes

    The Energy Generation, Purchasing, & Distribution SWATeam met for the first time of the FY2017 on September 21. They revised their focus topics for the year and reviewed progress on current projects, such as on the rooftop solars on the Electrical and Computer Engineering Building, the Speech and Hearing Building, and the Business and Instruction Facility. Finally, EGen also discussed the possibility of building a second solar farm in order to further meet iCap goals. 

    Attached Files: 
  6. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (4.13.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held another bi-weekly meeting. Topics covered include:

    • Ximing Cai's [in attendance] vision for iSEE and SWATeams
    • Developing a recommendation to expand UIUC solar farm.
    • Developing a recommendation for another clean energy PPA
    • Cost savings for geothermal systems and opportunities for implementation at solar farm and new building sites
  7. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (3.30.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held another bi-weekly meeting. Topics covered include:

    • Performing preliminary assessment for clean energy PPA
    • Fact sheet using solar farm as basis to estimate land needs and costs of additional solar farm to meet iCAP goal
    • Update on biomass boiler at energy farm
    • Identifying opportunities to purseu implementation of ground source heat pump (GSHP) technology on campus.
  8. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (3.10.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held another bi-weekly meeting. Topics covered include:

    • Associate Director for Campus Sustainability Ximing Cai and his vision for iSEE
    • Biomass boiler at Energy Farm
    • Opportunities for Geothermal on campus
  9. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (2.3.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam a meeting for the Spring 2017 semester. Topics covered include:

    • Determining Team Chair
    • Final Review of rooftop solar recommendation and Petascale offsets recommendation.
    • What constitutes clean energy usage? (REC count vs. RECs don't count)
    Attached Files: 
  10. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (1.20.17)

    The EGEN SWATeam held their first meeting for the Spring 2017 semester. Topics covered include:

    • Review draft recommendations for 1) on-campus solar and 2) petascale offsets
    • An update from Morgan Johnston on the Associate Director of Campus Sustainability position
    • Updating iCAP portal project pages for EGEN objectives
    • Clean Energy PPA
    • Potential for future solar farm
    • Asking for feedback from EGEN team members regarding recommendation proces
  11. EGEN SWATeam Meeting (12.2.16)

    The EGEN SWATeam held their final meeting for the Fall 2016 semester. Topics covered include:

    • Guest presentation by Niharika Kishore regarding rooftop solar on campus
    • Potential recommendations to Working Group
    • Potential solar: greenspace vs. rooftop vs. parking lot cover
  12. Urban Legend - debunked

    "As the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign considers installing more solar photovoltaic modules on the roofs of buildings, the discussion turns to the type of mounting systems to consider. This discussion often elicits the tale of the modules that were originally installed on the roof of the Business Instructional Facility (BIF) using a ballast-mounted system, that is, a mounting system held down using heavy weights such as concrete blocks. The story goes that a few of the PV modules blew off the roof of the building, and this subsequently led to the modules being installed with a racking system attached to the roof of the building.

    This story is an urban legend..."

    Read file for more information and photos.


    Attached Files: 
  13. 2015 iCAP solar objective and strategies

    Associated Project(s): 

    The 2015 iCAP, chapter 3, objective 2 is "Expand on-campus solar energy production.  By FY20, produce at least 12,500 MWh/year, and by FY25 at least 25,000 MWh/year, from solar installations on campus property."

    The 2015 iCAP also described the following potential strategies for achieving this objective:

    "2. Expand On-Campus Solar Energy Production

    The campus has a 33 kW photovoltaic array on the roof of the Business Instructional Facility (with an annual production of 44 MWh/yr) and a 14.7 kW ground-mounted array at the Building Research Lab (20 MWh/yr).  During FY15, we began installation of a 300 kW array on the roof of the new Electrical and Computer Engineering Building (402 MWh/yr), and the 5.87 MW Solar Farm on the south campus (7,860 MWh/yr). There is also a solar thermal array on the roof of the Activities and Recreation Center.  There are many other buildings, parcels of land, and parking lots that are well positioned to host sizeable photovoltaic and/or solar thermal arrays.  Although each array in itself would make a small contribution to campus energy generation, taken together the contribution could be significant.

    Identify best solar locations and implement solar projects

    The solar consultation group is identifying the best places to install the next round of photovoltaic projects, and planning to move forward on several projects simultaneously.  Solar thermal may make sense in some situations, as well.  Student design teams could be organized through classes and volunteer groups to assist with the planning and prioritizing of on-campus solar installations.

    Require solar PV on rooftops for new construction and major renovations

    The best time to plan for the installation of photovoltaics on a building is during the design phase.  The campus could implement standards requiring that all new construction and additions include solar photovoltaics on the roof.   In some cases it may also be effective to install photovoltaics on the exterior walls of the buildings."

  14. Campus Solar Deployment Roadmap presentation

    AASHE Conference, October 11, 2016 presentation

    Using Campus Solar Deployment Roadmaps to Guide University Investment: The Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), Second Nature, and TurningPoint Energy have developed an approach with four Midwest universities to define opportunities for on- and off-campus solar investment through a Campus PV Deployment Roadmap. In this panel, participants will hear presentations about the roadmapping process in general, specific incentives to universities and students, financial modeling and assistance offerings, and first-hand experience from one of our pilot universities.

  15. EGEN SWATeam Meeting Notes (9.28.16)

    The EGEN SWATeam held their second meeting for the Fall 2016 semester. Topics covered include:

    • Review progress toward 2015 iCAP objectives
    • Review/Finalize poster for Campus Sustainability Celebration.
    • Identify 2nd faculty member for EGEN SWATeam
    • Exploring ideas for clean energy on campus.