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Solar Power at UTSA

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Jennifer Lo

on 16 December 2013

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Transcript of Solar Power at UTSA

Solar Power at UTSA
Introduction to Solar Power
Solar at Washington University
Washington U has utilized photovoltaic systems mainly for research, just enough to power a house. This is beneficial because not too much money is spent and students can learn from the small amount they do have (Washington University)

U.S. Energy Consumption
Interview with Christopher, Environmental Science Major
: What do you think about implementing solar energy on school campuses?

: Solar energy on school campuses is a great idea, if the school has money to do so. I think it's a good, viable idea in theory, but there are a lot of factors to consider before depending on solar energy as the main source.

J: Do you think photovoltaic systems would be practical for UTSA?

C: Yes. Texas is a great place to use solar panels. The amount of sunlight that reaches San Antonio would allow the photovoltaic systems to produce large amounts of energy.

J: Are there any reasons that you would advise against implementing solar power?

C: Yes. It is important to note that solar power maintenance can be costly. Solar panels are easily damaged by weather. Hail severely injures solar panels and it expensive to repair the panels.

J: So, do you think that the benefits might outweigh its costs?

C: Definitely. Solar energy isn't everywhere because it is so expensive to buy solar panels. Finding the funds is the hardest part of converting a university from conventional energy to solar.

J: The UTSA Green Fund has just proposed the purchase of 10 Big Belly Solar Recycling Compactors. Have you heard about the effectiveness of these machines? Do you think they will help UTSA become more green?

C: I have not, but I am aware that UTSA has begun testing solar energy. Getting solar panels on campus is the first step to fully implementing solar energy. UTSA definitely has the potential to become a more green campus.
Works Cited
Andrews, Avital. "Ten Coolest Schools."
Sierra Club
. Sierra Club. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.

Fish, Christi, and Tracy Ross-Garcia. "UTSA Receives $750K Grant to Develop Solar Technology, Train Minorities for Energy Jobs." UTSA Today. The University of Texas at San Antonio, 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.

Master Plan Management Council.
Agenda of the Council
. Rep. UTSA, 2013. Print.

Tijerina, Christopher. Personal Interview. 13 Dec. 2013
Big Belly @ UTSA
This year, the Green Fund proposed the use of 10 Big Belly solar recycling compactors (Master).
Big Belly is a solar powered trash compactor that runs on a battery totally powered by the sun.
It requires little maintenance and would be an ideal fit for a university that's trying to become more environmentally friendly, like UTSA.
If the proposal is accepted, the trash compactors will be placed in the Sombrilla Plaza at the Main Campus (Master).
The proposal is currently a "feasibility study," meaning that a team will research the project's viability extensively before deciding to use the compactors.
Solar Successes at other campuses
University of California, Santa Barbara
UCSB's on-campus photovoltaic systems have lowered electricity use by a 1/3 (Andrews).

American University
AU has implemented 27-kilowatt solar panels and a solar hot-water system (Andrews).

Dickinson College

Dickinson installed solar panels to power the campus' organic farm irrigation pump (Andrews).

Solar energy has
helped these universities
become LEED certified.
Developing solar technology at UTSA
Solar technology is well on its way to being an everyday part of campus life UTSA.
A total of 1228 solar panels have been installed at both the Main and Downtown campus.
These panels support some energy for the university, but mainly exist for research purposes.
Utsa has recently received a $750K grant to further solar technology and promote energy jobs (Fish).
The grant will allow UTSA to develop more solar technology and get on track to LEED certification.
The goal is to have an "annual production of 242 mega-watt-hours of energy and generate a potential savings of $65,000 per year for UTSA ("UTSA")."
Solar Power at UTSA
Based on our research, solar power is a great fit for UTSA. The biggest obstacle separating UTSA from becoming more reliant on solar energy is funding. Once UTSA's ongoing solar panel studies are complete, a more informed decision can be made as to whether solar energy will be a viable option at UTSA.
Works Cited
Andrews, Avital. "Ten Coolest Schools."
Sierra Club
. Sierra Club. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.

Burgin, Aaron. "Faulty Solar Panels Pulled from 24 Schools."
U-T San Diego
. 13 Sept. 2012. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

Fish, Christi, and Tracy Ross-Garcia. "UTSA Receives $750K Grant to Develop Solar Technology, Train Minorities for Energy Jobs."
UTSA Today
. The University of Texas at San Antonio, 30 Oct. 2013. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.

Gromicko, Nick. "Advantages of Solar Energy."
. International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, Inc., 2006. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Hamer, John. "Solar Energy." Editorial Research Reports 1976. Vol. II. Washington: CQ Press, 1976. 823-42.
CQ Researcher
. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.

Maehlum, Mathias A. "Solar Energy Pros and Cons."
Energy Informative
. Energy Informative, 26 June 2013. Web. 12 Dec. 2013.

Master Plan Management Council.
Agenda of the Council.
Rep. N.p.: UTSA, 2013. Print.

Reece, Will. "The History Of Solar Power." Energy and Utilities. Experience, n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

Tijerina, Christopher. Personal Interview. 13 Dec. 2013

"UTSA Installation of Distributed Solar Energy Resources." The Texas Sustainable Energy Research Institute at UTSA. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Dec. 2013.

"Washington University in St. Louis Solar Energy Related Activities."
Washington University Solar Panels
. Washington University, Apr. 2006. Web. 14 Dec. 2013.
The solar cell was discovered in 1953. The New York Times claimed that solar cells were "the beginning of a new era" (Reece). We are here to talk about implementing solar energy at UTSA and present the pros and cons so you can decide for yourself. Even though the start-up costs are expensive, over time, solar energy will save UTSA money on electricity and make the university more environmentally friendly.
“The energy in the sunlight falling on the surface of Lake Erie in a single day is greater than current annual U.S. energy consumption (Hamer).”

“The amount of solar radiation striking only 1 per cent of the nation's land area each year is more than projected national energy needs to the year 2000 (Hamer). “

“The solar energy reaching the surface of the entire United States annually is greater than the total amount of fossil-fuel energy that, scientists say, will ever be extracted in this country (Hamer).”

“We will have access to solar energy for as long as the sun is alive – another 6.5 billion years according to NASA”(Maehlum).
The sun’s energy will not run out in our lifetime nor in many generations to come.
Sustainable and renewable
While there is no pollution while cultivating the energy, emissions are created during the manufacturing and transportation of solar power systems. Yet, it is much less than the impact of burning of fossil fuels which “releases roughly 21.3 billion metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere annually” (Gromicko).
Minimal pollution
Solar energy is available all over the world, Including America.
There are no moving parts or noise involved in most applications of solar power. When using wind turbines, the noise can be a problem for residents around the area. Turbines have also been known to kill thousands of birds annually.
Usually panels only require cleaning a couple of times a year and have a 20 year warranty.
Maintenance is minimal.
Production of solar panels for domestic use is becoming a growing source of employment in research, manufacture, sales and installation.
Green Jobs
"Solar systems rely on the steady absorption of sunlight -- particularly, subatomic particles called photons -- which can be easily deterred (Gromicko)." The only time of the day when solar panels can create energy is throughout the daytime when light production is at its peak. Because of this, solar panels are not reliable 24/7.
Lack of Consistency and Reliability
"To power an entire building, a large solar array is required. A bulky mechanical orientation system may also be required to turn the panels as they follow the sun across the sky. Batteries, too, can take up a fair amount of space (Gromicko)." "Power density, or watt per square meter (W/m²), is essential when looking at how much power can be derived from a certain area of real estate of an energy source. Low power density indicates that too much real estate is required to provide the power we demand at reasonably prices. The global mean power density for solar radiation is 170 W/m². This is more than any other renewable energy source (Maehlum)."
Solar panels can become damaged by ultraviolet radiation. Harsh weather conditions such as Rain, snow, dirt, temperature fluctuations, hail and wind can also be harmful to solar cells.
Panel Deterioration
Solar panel damaged by moisture
"The number of solar array panels needed to capture energy for an entire home typically costs tens of thousands of dollars, making the electricity they produce cost substantially more than that provided by conventional power sources. Also the expensive battery banks needed for solar arrays are typically not covered under the warranty for the panels themselves. They also don’t last nearly as long as the panels, and it may cost $100 or more for each battery's replacement (Gromicko)." It can take up to 10-15 years to make up the total amount spent on these photovoltaic panels. The total cost of solar panels, batteries needed for energy storage, replacements, and maintenance add up financially in the end.
A few of the more notorious substances contained in panels and associated equipment include:

"If leaked from the panel, cadmium can inflict serious environmental damage (Gromicko)."
"Panels must be disposed of with extreme care in order to keep this carcinogenic substance from leeching into soil and water (Gromicko)."
Lead Batteries,
"Specifically deep-cycle, lead-acid batteries, are required by solar arrays to ensure a constant supply of electricity (Gromicko)."
"They contain lead and sulfuric acid, which are both highly toxic, especially to marine creatures (Gromicko)."
"Lead has been found to cause a number of impairments in children, including developmental disabilities (Gromicko)."
Environmental Pollutants
For example a report on UT San Diego’s page claims that Solar panels were taken down from 24 San Diego Unified School District campuses over the summer after the products were found to have defects including premature corrosion causing a danger of roof fires.

The manufacturer of the panels, Michigan-based Solar Integrated Technologies, has filed for bankruptcy protection. The district expects to pay $400,000 more annually for energy in the coming years because of the dismantling of the installations
Solar Panels @ UT San Diego
Other Issues
"To minimize installation costs, many solar designers connect the panels together in high voltage “strings” – typically operating at 250 to 400 direct current volts, up to a maximum of 600 volts DC (SolarSafety)." If there is a shortage in any of the wires when in direct contact with the sun, the electrical wires may arc. This electrical arc causes extremely high temperatures that can melt through enclosures causing a fire.
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