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university of akron invests in additional solar arrays

The University of Akron is investing in more solar panels as part of the school’s commitment to comply with a pending energy bill to cut 20-percent of all consumed energy by 2014.
The project comes at the end of Akron’s search for a project with high visibility that required little to no infrastructure changes while making a noticeable impact the school’s sustainability habits. “This new array will offset one percent of all energy consumed and nearly five percent of our demand profile during peak grid congestion,” explains Ralph Morrone, Manager of University Sustainability.
Akron’s investment is a marked improvement on the campus’ lone 28KW array. Morrone says the new array is 650KW – more than 23 times the installed capacity. “The existing array is barely enough to light one floor of the building that it currently resides atop,” quips Morrone, adding the initial project was created simply to promote the technology.
The project is also a win for nearby Carbon Vision, a Shaker Heights-based renewable energy analysis and project development firm that won the bid to produce Akron’s solar arrays. Carbon Vision offered the “turnkey solution” for the university’s needs, including a plan to design, fund, install, and maintain the solar array at their cost for the duration of the contract and Power Purchase Agreement. “The only cost to the university during the contract is the cost of power generated from the array, which will be entirely consumed by the university’s electrical demand on its internal electrical grid,” says Morrone, who will be working with Carbon Vision to ensure their contract is met and that the project is properly coordinated.
For Morrone, the solar arrays project is also an investment in education, illustrating to current and future students that the university is “committed to thinking outside of the box to employ new strategies to lessen our burden on the environment and its carbon footprint.” He concludes, “In allowing students to see, touch, and measure the capabilities of green and energy producing technologies, the University of Akron is directly influencing students’ experiences and further enriching skillsets needed to compete in a global and technologically advanced labor market.”
Source: Ralph Morrone
Writer: Joe Baur
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