Solar Schools First Elementary Success

Pioneer Elementary School in Brentwood, California is one of three new California schools using solar energy to power its classrooms. United Solar Ovonic, a manufacturer of solar photovoltaic products, and Akeena Solar, an installation company, was chosen by the Brentwood School District to provide solar building-integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) roofing.

Brentwood, California – August 30, 2004 [SolarAccess.com] The 33 kW roof array will put power back into the grid, which will allow the school to have a zero-cost electric bill through credits from Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E). Pioneer’s Principal Dana Eaton, said “The system is like an educational hat trick; it’s a good science project for students to learn from, it makes financial sense and environmental sense, and it’s a good example for students on making choices that positively impact the environment, now and in the future.” The school’s array is comprised of 330 UniSolar modules installed on four buildings at the school, 15 SunnyBoy inverters and a web-based performance monitoring system. Total DC output of the system is 42.4 kW, and total AC output is 37.5 kW. BIPV laminates from Ovonic are manufactured in nine miles of roll-to-roll sheets of photovoltaic material over three days, and the machine is the size of a football field. The high-temperature and low-light characteristics of these laminates result in more delivered energy to the building even on cloudy days, according to the company. The laminates were applied directly to the school’s stainless steel roofing pans using a “peel and apply” adhesive. This application should help the school avoid costly repairs that might come up with raised panels. “Schools present some of the most difficult design challenges. It is amazing how large rocks, debris and even skateboards can find their way onto school roofs,” said Barry Cinnamon, President of Akeena Solar. The Brentwood School District’s system is part of the Solar Schools Program that is intended to help teach students about renewable and clean energy. A $100,000 grant from the program covered some of the cost of the solar equipment at the elementary school. Akeena Solar and Ovonics are also under contract to install a similar system at the Grant Avenue Elementary School. The Brentwood School District has already received a $125,000 rebate from PG&E for the system, and has plans to offset the other costs of the system with state money, local money, and developer’s fees. “The dual purpose roof and energy system will now convert necessary capital expenditures and operating costs into a single ‘clean energy producing asset’ with a measurable return on investment,” Tom Moran, senior product market manager at United Solar Ovonic, said. “The Uni-solar system will produce up to 1,500,000 kWh over the life of the system to help offset the school district’s most expensive price periods.” A second BIPV system with Ovonic components will be installed at the Grant Avenue Elementary School now under construction in the Brentwood district. A third system for a new 80 kW middle school is under bid.

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