A new 2.3-acre, 332-kilowatt solar array on Health Science Campus is expected to save The University of Toledo nearly $30,000 a year while increasing the amount of renewable energy powering the University. The HSC Tech Park Solar Field is located off Arlington Avenue along Main Technology Drive near the Facilities Support Building.
First Solar, one of the world’s largest manufacturers of solar cells and a company that originated in UToledo laboratories, donated 365 kilowatts of its Series 5 modules to the University in 2017, valued at $192,000. Approximately 10% of the donated modules are being reserved for maintenance.
A senior design team made up of UToledo students studying mechanical, industrial, and manufacturing engineering worked with UToledo Facilities and Construction to identify the site and prepared construction engineering drawings with assistance from JDRM Engineering. The UToledo Student Green Fund approved spending $350,000 to cover the costs to install the array. The construction contract was awarded to Solscient Energy LLC after a public bidding of the project. The projected electrical production over the 25-year life of the system will be more than $700,000, enough to power about 60 homes annually.
“The University of Toledo continues to reduce its carbon footprint and strengthen its commitment to a clean energy future,” said Dr. Randy Ellingson, professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy. “Thanks to First Solar’s generous donation of modules and UToledo working to keep costs down, the array will produce some of the lowest cost solar energy in the state of Ohio. We are excited to connect our students to these solar projects. They gain valuable experience with this fast-growing energy technology that generates carbon-free electricity directly from sunlight.”
Based on avoided combustion of fossil fuels, the array will prevent the release of approximately 6 million kilograms of carbon dioxide while generating approximately 10.5 gigawatt hours of clean electricity for Health Science Campus. A portion of the value of the electricity generated will go to a fund for use on future renewable energy projects.
Building on a more than 30-year history advancing solar technology to power the world using clean energy, UToledo researchers are pushing the performance of solar cells to levels never before reached.
Last year, the U.S. Department of Energy awarded UToledo $4.5 million to develop the next-generation solar panel by bringing a new, ultra-high-efficiency material called perovskites to the consumer market.
The U.S. Air Force also awarded UToledo physicists $7.4 million to develop solar technology that is lightweight, flexible, highly efficient, and durable in space so it can provide power for space vehicles using sunlight.
Plus, the U.S. Department of Energy last year awarded UToledo physicists $750,000 to improve the production of hydrogen as fuel, using clean energy—solar power—to split the water molecule and create clean energy—hydrogen fuel.