Campus Center Sees First Solar Savings

It seems that a new campus building isn’t complete without some solar nowadays. The New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) built a campus center and installed a 50 kW, 160-panel solar photovoltaic (PV) array on the roof.

The array provides power for the campus center, and should save the university $40,000 a year in electrical bills. NJIT also received a $215,000 rebate from the N.J. Board of Public Utilities to offset the cost of installing the system. The solar-powered system prevents 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year from being released into the air. That’s how much carbon dioxide would issue from a coal-burning power plant had NJIT not installed the panels. The panels also prevent the release of nitrogen oxide and mercury, two other byproducts of a coal-burning power plant. “NJIT’s solar-unit is the most advanced in the state,” said Leon Baptiste, a graduate of NJIT and the engineer who installed the system. Baptiste mounted 144 of the framed panels onto the roof, and added 16 upright solar trackers. TurtlEnergy of Linden, New Jersey supplied the solar panels, which have a 25-year warranty. An information kiosk is located inside the campus center lobby where a computer screen displays the amount of energy being saved by the panels. Since the system was installed in 2004, the monitor has shown that the array has produced enough energy to make 500,000 cups of coffee. The monitor also shows that the panels have prevented 68 pounds of nitrogen oxides and 20,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from being released into the air. “It’s the best solar-electric array I’ve seen,” said Baptiste. “It should be a model for other universities, and businesses, across the state.”

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