Solar at Lycoming

On November 12, 2009, Lycoming College entered into the world of solar energy with the addition of a 3.1 kW, 15 panel photovoltaic (PV) system on the Heim science building. The solar panel project was spearheaded by Dr. Mel Zimmerman and Clean Water Institute interns Tracie Curtis ’09 and Megan Schulze ’11 who attended the 2008 Solar Scholars Conference at Dickinson College sponsored by the Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF). After applying for a $15,000 grant along with 36 other colleges and universities in attendance, Lycoming was one of 12 institutions to be awarded the grant.

Heim houses the biology and chemistry departments at Lycoming. Also in the building are the two offices and three labs associated with the Lycoming College Clean Water Institute (CWI). The purpose of the project will be to offset the power used by the CWI in the Heim Building. The current annual energy consumption for the building is 1,816,500 kWh with 18,463 kWh used by the CWI. The total project cost was $21,000.

The solar PV system output on the Heim Building will be compared with the energy demands needed to run equipment, not including lights, in three of the Clean Water Institute labs. Room 112 houses a refrigerator and two incubators (1.021 kWh), room 105 contains a 150 gallon saltwater tank with a separate emergency circuit (0.972 kWh), and room 120 has two incubators (0.240 kWh). On average, these labs require 1.909 kW per hour, 45.816 kW per day, or 1393.57 kW per month. This would translate to about $100.00 per month that we pay for the electricity for the lab equipment. To date, the total output of the solar PV system since its accession is 4493.64 kWh. After translation, the PV system is offsetting the equipment energy demand by about 16%.

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