The University of Texas at Austin has a brand new solar power array on top of its Manor Parking Garage and the roof of a Facilities Complex building. These new installations will bring as much as 305,000 kilowatt hours of renewable energy to the table on an annual basis, close to 30 percent of the 1 million kilowatt-hours of energy consumed annually across the eight Facilities Complex buildings.
These latest installations join the university’s existing solar installation at the J.J. Pickle Research Campus, and, like that system, will feed real-time information to university researchers studying the performance of solar panels. The Manor Garage system makes use of three arrays equipped with different panels and inverters, which researchers and engineering students will contrast and compare in studying photovoltaic efficiencies and outputs.
All told, the university now manages over 500 kilowatts of solar power.
“We’re providing a hands-on educational experience for engineering students and researchers while offsetting a portion of the annual electrical load at the university,” said Michael Webber, a mechanical engineering professor and co-director of the university’s Center for International Energy and Environmental Policy, in a statement. “These arrays are essentially living laboratories where both academic and operational departments can gain information about solar power as a source of renewable energy.”
The contractors for the two projects were Alpha Building Corporation of San Antonio and Meridian Solar of Austin, which installed the arrays. Solar panels were manufactured by First Solar, Sharp, SunPower, and Solar World. Like the existing solar project at the Pickle Research Campus, the Manor Garage and Facilities Complex installations were funded jointly by the university and grants from Texas’s State Energy Conservation Office.