UW - Mechanical Engineering Building
- none -
In 2002, three University of Washington (UW) students evaluated the feasibility of using solar to generate electricity on the UW campus. They surveyed campus facilities for potential solar sites and explored opportunities for funding. While the student team concluded the cost of PV was still not competitive with conventional energy sources, they recommended the formation of a student organization and small-scale demonstrations to educate the campus community, encourage further research, and advocate for a more energy independent and green-powered university.
In 2003, Mechanical Engineering student Nathan Miller, in cooperation with Dave Fields, the UW Facilities Manager, and Dr. Philip Malte, Professor of Mechanical Engineering, applied for and was successful in receiving Seattle City Light Green Power Program funding for a 2.6-kilowatt photovoltaic (PV) system demonstration project at the Mechanical Engineering Building.
The project consists of two arrays of eight 165-watt modules each (2.6 kilowatts DC total) mounted on the building's southeast façade and roof. Installed in late 2004, the solar arrays produce only a small amount of the building's electricity requirements, but serve as a testing and educational resource for the UW Department of Mechanical Engineering. Solar coursework is included in ME 426 and ME 442 as well as other classes. The wall-mounted array also creates awareness of solar energy for the greater campus community and walk-by traffic.
Energy monitoring provided to the University by Solar 4R Schools has connected the live performance data from their existing PV system to the Energy Exploration Center at Solar4RSchools.org. Students and educators nationwide can chart, graph and analyze the system's performance data for educational purposes.