This project was originally proposed by Mechanical Engineering students for Abbott Power Plant in spring 2016. At that time, the SSC members did not want to support solar on the co-generation power plant because it uses fossil fuels. They asked if we could use it on a different campus roof, and we considered all the large or medium campus roofs.
The SSC asked us to identify a building that could have solar added, so I reached out to Applied Health Sciences in 2016 for approval to use the Speech and Hearing Sciences Building. Since that time, Kristine Chalifoux confirmed that the roof is strong enough for solar panels, due to a previous change in the insulation materials. Brian Finet completed design drawings for installing solar on the full available roof, and the Architecture Review Committee confirmed the building is allowed to have solar added.
After the engineering design work, the remaining funds were about $35K. This fall, we received a construction estimate from Jeff Holt for upgrading the electrical system to handle a 70 kW solar PV array. It would cost about $42K if done in conjunction with your capital project, just to get the wiring up to the roof and ready to punch through and install panels later. Rather than ask the SSC for additional funding and an extension, I am returning the remaining dollars and putting this project on indefinite hold.
The overall campus goals for on-campus solar generation are listed in the 2015 Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP), which will be updated for 2020. The current objective is to generate 25,000 MWh/year of on-campus solar, and we are currently at about 7,000 MWh/year. Per the direction received from Chancellor Jones, we are working on a second large-scale solar farm to meet the goal, rather than several smaller-scale projects.
The second solar farm is planned to be about 12,000 kW in name-plate capacity, significantly more than the 70 kW rooftop array for Speech and Hearing. Rooftop solar is still an option, and several departments continue to install them at the building scale. The design drawings are posted online through the iCAP Portal, at , for future use.