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Projects Updates for Install Solar PVs on NCPD

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  1. RE: Solar Panels

    Associated Project(s): 

    Brent, Morgan,

    I am working with CSL on a small project for some solar panels near their satellite office in the North Campus Parking Garage. CSL mentioned that Canadian Solar is one of the approved suppliers to the campus.


    You probably know that Canadian Solar, in spite of its name, is mostly a Chinese supplier, although they have a more modest plant in Canada. The largest Chinese supplier is Jinko Solar, which in my experience is a bit better in quality.


    I am hoping we can spin up a higher-quality U.S. supplier, such as Sunpower, as an alternative to the various foreign providers.


    Philip T. Krein, Ph.D., P.E.


    Hi Sush and Brian,


    I am working on this research project at the North Campus Parking Deck to put solar panels on the canopy on the outside of the south side of the building.  They will be feeding them into a research space to power servers.  They actually want to have the panels directly power a battery and then power the servers from the battery.  I provided the cutsheets of the panels we used at the President’s Shed.  These fit the weight and size dimension requirements.  As we have used them before, they are therefore “pre-approved.”  One of the researchers, Philip, is asking about using something different in the email below.  Can you please assist in a response? 


    Also, as far as I knew, we hadn’t done any large battery systems on campus.  Possibly that is incorrect, but in asking recently I came up with nothing.  Please take a look at the cutsheet for the enphase and see if we would be ok with this one.  If not, please provide some additional direction.







    I’m not aware that we have approved “vendors” for solar panels nor for inverters and such equipment.  Also, I not aware of where we would have a PV system using storage, the few I’m familiar with are grid tie systems.


    How big of a system are they looking at?


    Brian Curtis Finet, PE




    We will still tie this to the grid as a back up, back up power supply.  They would have 18 panels total along that canopy. I know we don’t have any officially “approved” vendors, but since we used the ones at the President’s House, we had approved them through construction.  Originally the researchers picked out what they wanted, but the manufacturer didn’t want to deal with us, so I threw out using the ones we’ve already installed here at least once. 


    I am not 100% certain if this is to power 3 new servers with 3 new batteries, or 3 new servers, with only one battery.  Based on the last email, it appeared we would only be looking at one battery for the backup.  I can put you in touch with the MEP if you would rather talk directly.







    Apart from Brian’s comments, here some things I would consider if the owner has concerns and this is how I would plan on choosing a panel vendor.

    1. Panel Efficiency, Im talking about the amount of energy produced with respect to area. w/m2 (Also depends what type of panel polycrystalline or monocrystalline). Higher the panel efficiency higher is the energy produced per m2.
    2. Next is quality, Chinese panel have a reputation of being made of cheap material but Canadian solar has been good performing for its price. It can measured by knowing history of the panel performance.
    3. Warranty, I would compare at the 10 years manufacturer warranty and make sure there isn’t any expensive service contract involved. Also key to understand where so you have to send the panel incase you receive a faulty one.
    4. Panel specifications are another factor, compare characteristics like coefficient of temperature & power tolerance.
    5. Lastly, cost and aesthetics, since it is on the canopy I would think they want something pretty and cost, how much are they willing to shell.


    My final thoughts - Sunpower has a better rating, reliability and warranty compared to Canadian solar (last I checked its been a year or so) but it also comes at higher $$.




    Sushanth Girini

  2. Videos

    Associated Project(s): 

    We are pleased to provide the two animated files discussed at yesterday’s final presentation of the N. Campus Parking Deck Solar Array Conceptualization:

    • Hanno Weber’s ramp-up animation
    • Time lapse showing the construction of a parking garage solar installation

    Please click the following link to access these two items, and feel free to forward the link to colleagues who would be interested but were not at Thursday’s meeting.

  3. update from Joyce Mast

    Associated Project(s): 

    From: Mast, Joyce C
    Sent: Wednesday, June 26, 2013 9:32 AM
    To: Beverage, McKenzie; Johnston, Morgan B
    Subject: RE: ECE Solar Installation Status Update


    Thank you for checking with me about the status of the Solar Installation on the North Parking Garage. I expect that no funds will be spent on the SSC account before the end of the fiscal year. We need results from the feasibility study for placing the panels on the North Parking Garage roof before we will be spending money on the panels or installation.  The study is to be officially completed by September 6, 2013, but we expect to  have drawings and plans by July. This will give us enough information to seek more matching funds so that the panels may be installed in time for the July 2014 completion date for the new building.  

    Best regards,

    Joyce Mast

  4. meeting updates

    Associated Project(s): 

    Yesterday’s meeting covered more refined and detailed breakdown of the following topics, most of which were discussed in prior meetings, with the exception of the newly introduced structural support “Space Frame” option.

    • Panel layout configurations for truss mounted structural frame- 4 sections of seven rows at approx. 100 modules/row or four sections of six rows also 100 modules each. Truss mounting providing specific spacing for mounting dimensions. Also mentioned types of Truss material recommending tubular over welded angle, siting weatherization, degradation, appearance and animal habitat prevention as main reasons.
    • Space Frame structure was introduced as a favorable option.
    • A space frame is a structure system assembled of linear elements so arranged that forces are transferred in a three-dimensional manner. In some cases, the constituent element may be two dimensional.
    • Macroscopically a space frame often takes the form of a flat or curved surface.
    • It should be noted that virtually the same structure defined as space frame here is referred to as latticed structures in a state-of-the-art report prepared by the Task Committee on Latticed Structures [2], which states
    • A latticed structure is a structure system in the form of a network of elements (as opposed to a continuous surface). Rolled, extruded or fabricated sections comprise the member elements.
    • Another characteristic of latticed structural system is that their load-carrying mechanism is three dimensional in nature.
    • Space frame benefits although more costly up front were presented as prefabricated, galvanized and powder coated, sturdy, longer Life cycle and less maintenance, but requiring cranes and other installation costs. They also have installer requirements for mounting solar array as to maintain the integrity of the coating and protective surfaces. Provided flexible mounting spacing to help maximize power output and minimize shading.
    • Inverter layout revisited with schematic diagram presented illustrating component placement and wiring layouts.
    • An overall electrical schematic was presented identifying key component placing and overcurrent protection limits and needs, along with electrical room Layout.
    • Metering usage stated existing meters could be utilized with the addition of a revenue grade power production meter to monitor the array output.
    • Single line diagram was presented identifying current and project components, mentioning the output potential of 1400-1600 amps at 480 volts.
    • Introduced idea of rainwater harvesting for irrigation or toilet flushing usages.
    • Procurement procedures mentioned and moved as major topic for next meeting with concerns of turnkey type purchasing being the industry norm verses purchasing standard variety purchasing from multiple vendors in normal construction.
    • Next meeting PEP is having the structural Engineers present design considerations, and Mr. Jim Lev will have construction procurement representative attend.
  5. NCPD conceptualization mtg

    Associated Project(s): 

    Today’s meeting covered LED fixture questions and concerns:

    They presented data and layout with luminescence patterns for 2 fixtures one costing $400. 00/fixture and another $1000.00/fixture. It was mentioned that we need dimming features but no specifics on how or the criteria for that.

    Also covered were:

    • different configurations for trusses and rows of PV modules, scaffolding, and height and spacing requirements for same.
    • The module size and efficiency requirements needed to create 1600(Mwh) of power annually, along with quantities per different sq/ft
    • Drainage for the snow and rain off of the modules, along with snow removal equipment in the bay areas
    • Shading impact due to elevator towers, and overlapping rays during the winter months effecting production and how to handle these issues
    • Central inverter scheme being the most effective and the optional layouts and wiring for same.
    • DC combiner boxes layout scheme and wiring to reduce the effects of shading on power production