Commencement activities always bring a jolt of energy to campus, but this year there’s an actual new source of electricity. This month Colby installed its first solar photovoltaic installation on the roof of the Schair-Swenson-Watson Alumni Center, the first of Colby’s 12 LEED-certified buildings now on campus.
Installed by Maine Solar Engineering, the panels have a generating capacity of 25.76 kW and are expected to produce 33,000 kWh annually. This electric output will provide 10 to 15 percent of the alumni center’s annual energy consumption. In the installation’s first week of operation, the panels reduced the average daily consumption of the building by 35 percent. SSWAC is electrically heated and cooled through the use of geothermal heat pumps. All of the electricity generated by the panels will be used in the building.
The SSWAC site’s potential was first identified and evaluated by Dan Chiniara ’13 as part of a senior research project in the Environmental Studies Program in 2012. Even before the solar installation, all electricity at Colby has come from certified renewable sources since 2003. Colby was credited for helping to create a market for green electricity in Maine when it committed to using only renewable-source power, and that commitment helped Colby achieve carbon neutrality in 2013—the fourth college or university in the nation to reach that milestone.
Real-time system performance can be seen here.
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