Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty: Ole Miss Goes Solar

Think all major rooftop solar power installations are going up in states with big solar incentives, like California and New Jersey? Think again. The University of Mississippi and Joule Energy recently completed a roof-mounted solar installation on the university’s Center for Manufacturing Excellence in Oxford to the tune of 107 kilowatts. The new system—made possible, in part, with help from the 2009 stimulus—is believed to be the largest roof-mounted solar array in the state of Mississippi.

Consisting of 392 Siliken 245-watt modules and 39 SunPower 320-watt modules distributed across three campus buildings, the system incorporates not only two brands of solar module, but three inverter technologies, including a central inverter, micro-inverter array and two hybrid string inverters with optimizers. And the system uses that reliable Southern sunshine to provide power on campus for a variety of uses.

University of Mississsippi solar array

image via University of Mississippi

For instance, the power generated on just one building—the Center for Manufacturing Excellence—by 11 a.m. on a sunny day was enough to run the center’s administrative offices and classrooms.

Like so many renewable energy systems on school campuses, this one will be serve as a hands-on teaching tool for the study of solar within the university’s curriculum, but with an intriguing twist: the different solar technologies employed by the system will allow professors and students to compare various options that would better enable the university to reap the most significant value from its solar tech.

Toward that end, the system consists of independent configurations of solar technologies that can be monitored independently to see which is working at the most cost-effective rate, factoring in the conditions most affecting the system’s output (ambient temperature, wind speed, and irradiance). The monitoring display is located within the building, and the solar array’s production information can also be accessed online.

Nor is Ole Miss a stranger to this whole green schools thing in general, as it currently has six LEED-certified buildings on campus and three Green Globe buildings under way.

The university’s roof-mounted solar power system was funded by the Mississippi Development Authority, courtesy of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, with matching funds from the university. More information is available online.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.