AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Solar power is providing the energy needed to charge 10 electric vehicles, or EVs, on the campus of Auburn University. Facilities Management, in partnership with the Office of Sustainability, has funded a pilot project for the installation of 24 solar panels on top of the northeast and southeast stairwells of the stadium parking deck.
The solar panel system is capable of producing 6.6 kilowatts of power per day or about 13,250 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy per year. All of the power generated by the solar panels is fed back into the Auburn University master power grid as an offset to other energy used on campus.
The stadium parking deck solar system is designed to offset the energy used for powering 10 electric charging stations that have been installed on the lower level of the parking deck. The system is also expected to offset the energy to power some of the parking deck lighting when the charging stations are not being used.
“This pilot project will serve as a good model for us to test the system’s performance,” said Ken Martin, energy engineer for Facilities Management. “We’ll be able to quantify our results and determine whether or not to suggest future deployment sites, particularly on other parking decks.”
A real-time data collection system is tracking the amount of solar energy being produced throughout the day and the results may be found online at http://www.auburn.edu/administration/facilities/organization/utilities-energy/solar-array/index.html.
At present, eight of the 10 charging stations are occupied. Two Office of Accessibility JAUNT EVs provide students, staff and faculty with door-to-door campus transportation for those with temporary or permanent mobility impairment or other health conditions. One of the EVs is wheelchair-accessible. Three student-driven GOTCHA EVs offer free taxi rides to campus and nearby destinations. The College of Liberal Arts Information Technology staffers use two EVs to respond to customer service calls. A Johnson Controls contractor uses an EV to monitor and service campus buildings.
As a clean, green transportation alternative, the electric vehicles offset several vehicles that would be powered by fossil fuels, thereby reducing the campus carbon footprint. Additional charging stations may be added throughout campus as the demand for electric cars increases and as more solar panels are installed.
Biosystems Engineering senior design students completed a class project to expand the solar panel system on the stadium parking deck. Two preliminary design proposals were submitted with the possibility that upwards of 150 kilowatts of additional energy could be added to the Auburn University power grid each day.
Photos and video of this story can be found here.
(Written by Gail Riese.)