Harvard Gains 500KW Solar Array

Solar energy has made its debut at Harvard University, with CarbonFree Technology, Integrys Energy Services and SunPower Corporation installing a 500-kilowatt solar array on the roof of an historic brownstone.

The way we looked at Boston in 1949.

Boston from Crestock Stock Images

Solar energy is making its debut at none other than Harvard University. Three companies — CarbonFree Technology, Integrys Energy Services and SunPower Corporation — have partnered to install a 500-kilowatt solar array on the roof of one of Harvard University’s historic brownstones. The system will be managed by Crimson Solar, LLC, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Integrys.

Harvard has committed to buy power from the array for a period of 25 years at a pre-determined rate with no upfront capital cost. Using SunPower T5 Solar Roof Tiles among its components, the array has an estimated power-generating capacity equal to the needs of “83 average Massachusetts homes,” according to the joint press release announcing completion of the work. The system will help Harvard offset its carbon dioxide output by an estimated 367 metric tons annually.

The T5 Roof Tile units combined with SunPower’s high-performance, 96-cell solar panels create the first non-penetrating rooftop product in the industry. Tilted at a five-degree angle, the system has double the capacity of comparable flat-mounted arrays. The panels’ frame and mounting hardware are designed to function as a single unit, allowing the T5 tiles to interlock. This creates a more secure, durable placement with greater wind resistance. The design is optimized for use with flat and low-slope rooftops. The T5 array does not require electrical grounding due to the use of glass-filled, non-reactive polymers in the frame and mount, allowing for an easier and faster installation process.

SunPower developed the system with monies secured through the Solar America Initiative program administered by the U.S. Department of Energy. Introduced in the United States in May 2009, the T5 Roof Tile components became available for European orders in the third quarter of 2009. At Harvard the tiles were installed on the roof of the Arsenal, a multi-story structure built during World War I on the school’s Charles complex. The roof, which has been upgraded, is flat and unshaded, making it ideal for solar power purposes.

Harvard put the project out for bids in March 2009, with the array coming online just ten months later. Tom Leyden, managing director of SunPower, said via press release, “It is clear to us that Harvard has a serious commitment to environmental sustainability, and is looking for ways to creatively reduce operating costs on campus. We feel this project serves both objectives. The T5 Roof Tile will deliver more solar energy per square meter and greater energy savings than conventional systems.”

Funding for the project also included a $1.1 million rebate through the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, whose purposes is to promote the use of grid-tied photovoltaic systems. The Harvard project, while undoubtedly reducing energy costs for the university, is also part of broader efforts afoot in the state to leverage Massachusetts into a leading position in the renewable energy field. David Oxtoby, CEO of CarbonFree Technology was also quoted in the press release. “We are delighted to see Harvard play a leading role in the adoption of solar power in Massachusetts, and among academic institutions nationwide. We believe this is a clear win for Harvard, and an excellent fit with the university’s environmental goals,” Oxtoby said.

This article provided courtesy of HowToSaveElectricity.net

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