This 6.6 kW photovoltaic system was led by Appalachian State University’s student-led Renewable Energy Initiative. As a grid-tied, net-metered system it is relatively straight-forward, consisting of twenty-six 255 watt Siliken modules and Enphase M215 micro-inverters. The array is laid out on the western and central roof sections of the bus shelter at the Traffic Circle, a central and highly visible spot on campus.
Earlier this month, Appalachian State University hosted the Appalachian Energy Summit along with the Rocky Mountain Institute to collaborate within the UNC system “to create a strategic sustainable energy path for the mutual benefit of our students, the environment, and the world.” While that might sound like a lofty vision, ASU has long shown foresight on that front. Just ask any member of our team here at Sundance and they’ll confirm that, as there is a strong likelihood that they graduated from the University’s Appropriate Technology Program, one of the few degreed programs in the region for renewable energy. However, the number and diversity of operational renewable energy systems on campus stand as testimony to the fact that ASU has been a proactive leader on the Energy scene for years. And, of course, there is the student-driven Renewable Energy Initiative (featured in Community Connections) that has been the force for seeing many of the clean energy projects implemented.
The most recent of these is the 6.6 kW solar electric system that is mounted atop the ASU Traffic Circle Bus Shelter. According to Matt Allenbaugh, REI’s Project Manager on this installation, “the system is in a very visible location and it has become the first stop on most of our campus renewable energy tours.” He also added that this site was ideal because there was existing conduit running from the bus stop to the chiller plant, which saved time, money and materials on the installation.
As a grid-tied, net-metered system, it is relatively straight-forward, consisting of twenty-six 255 watt Siliken modules. The array is laid out on the western and central roof sections, with 13 modules installed on each roof section. The lower portion of the roof was left vacant due to shading from the building to the south. However, the system uses micro-inverters (Enphase M215s) and the REI team is excited to be able to demonstrate this newer technology that converts DC to AC on a per module basis. Jamie Trowbridge, REI’s Public Relations Officer, said “The Library Traffic Circle PV system that Sundance designed and installed is the first one on campus that uses micro-inverters. Micro-inverters help maintain system performance in the event of partial shading. Partial shading of even a single module can lower performance across the entire system with traditional, central inverters.”
Including system monitoring and display systems for the buildings and systems on campus is one of REI’s goals, according to Matt. Monitoring allows for real time data to be viewed, making the benefits more tangible to students and visiting public. “The renewable energy systems on campus have become a point of pride for Appalachian State. Students and faculty have been very supportive of the REI’s work,” he continued.
In addition to working on this system, our team has also appreciated being involved with these other renewable energy projects at ASU: Frank Residence Hall , Wind for Schools , and The E3 House. We are excited to see the AppalCART Office and Maintenance Facility nearing completion, with its solar-thermal supported radiant floor system. (Look for a feature on this in the near future.) These, along with all the other REI Projects, definitely put ASU further down the ‘strategic sustainable energy path’ than participants in the Summit might have realized, showing us all what is possible when there is a commitment to clean energy