Auburn University generating solar power to charge university’s electric vehicles


AUBURN UNIVERSITY – Solar power is providing the
energy needed to charge 10 electric vehicles, or EVs, on the campus of
Auburn University. Facilities Management, in partnership with the Office
of Sustainability, has funded a pilot project for the installation of
24 solar panels on top of the northeast and southeast stairwells of the
stadium parking deck.

The solar panel system is capable of producing 6.6 kilowatts of power
per day or about 13,250 kilowatt-hours of electrical energy per year.
All of the power generated by the solar panels is fed back into the
Auburn University master power grid as an offset to other energy used on

The stadium parking deck solar system is
designed to offset the energy used for powering 10 electric charging
stations that have been installed on the lower level of the parking
deck. The system is also expected to offset the energy to power some of
the parking deck lighting when the charging stations are not being used.

“This pilot project will serve as a good model for us to test the
system's performance,” said Ken Martin, energy engineer for Facilities
Management. “We'll be able to quantify our results and determine whether
or not to suggest future deployment sites, particularly on other
parking decks.”

A real-time data collection system is tracking the amount of solar
energy being produced throughout the day and the results may be found
online at

At present, eight of the 10 charging stations are occupied. Two
Office of Accessibility JAUNT EVs provide students, staff and faculty
with door-to-door campus transportation for those with temporary or
permanent mobility impairment or other health conditions. One of the EVs
is wheelchair-accessible. Three student-driven GOTCHA EVs offer free
taxi rides to campus and nearby destinations. The College of Liberal
Arts Information Technology staffers use two EVs to respond to customer
service calls. A Johnson Controls contractor uses an EV to monitor and
service campus buildings.

As a clean, green transportation alternative, the electric vehicles
offset several vehicles that would be powered by fossil fuels, thereby
reducing the campus carbon footprint. Additional charging stations may
be added throughout campus as the demand for electric cars increases and
as more solar panels are installed.

Biosystems Engineering senior design students completed a class
project to expand the solar panel system on the stadium parking deck.
Two preliminary design proposals were submitted with the possibility
that upwards of 150 kilowatts of additional energy could be added to the
Auburn University power grid each day.

Photos and video of this story can be found here.

(SOURCE: AUBURN UNIVERSITY / Written by Gail Riese.)

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