Clean Power: Photovoltaics and the University of Florida.
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Clean Power: Photovoltaics and the University of Florida
Imagine a power source that is-clean, sustainable, creates no noise,and could provide enough electric power for the entire country…The benefits of renewable energysources are becoming increasingly more desirable as our energy resources become scarce and our environment is plagued by the effects of our increasing dependence on fossil fuels…
Burning coal to generate electricity produces a chemical that contributes to acid rain, a problem that many believe negatively effects wildlife and forests.Carbon Dioxide, which contributes to the greenhouse effect is also produced, the greenhouse effect could potentially cause worldwide climate change. These environmental effects, along with an uncertain future of energy supplies, point to the many advantages of Photovoltaic (PV) Electric Systems…
Advantages of PV electric systems:-Providing a clean, reliable power source with a lifetime of at least 25 years-having a backup power source in the event of blackouts
-Photovoltaic cells convert sunlight directly into electricity through the interaction of photons and electrons in a semiconductor material. -The cells are typically made of silicon, the earth’s second most abundant resource.
The photovoltaic cell is the essential building-block of any photovoltaic system.-an individual cell is usually three to four inches square and produces about one watt of energy,-modules are formed by about 40 interconnected cells,-modules are then connected to make a PV array which canpotentially provide electricity for any demand.
Until recently, PV systems were cost-prohibitive for most residences--Fortunately, emerging energy concerns have caused manynational and regional homebuilders to offer solar electric systems on their new homes. In addition, Home Depot has partnered with BP Solar to sell and install PV systems on existing homes. However, they are still expensive because they require a high initial cost that will payoff over many years.
In order to make PV systems more accessible to the public--on the government level, state and federal policies should establish incentives for PV system users-local utility companies should participate in the collaborative process known as net-metering
This is where institutions like the University of Florida can become
very influential in the future of sustainable energy…
President of the University’s Residence--located at the juncture of SW 2nd Avenue and University,-7610 square feet,-used an average of 9000 kWh of electricity per month in the last 12 months…Energy Conservation-Before photovoltaics are considered in any home, a thorough energy conservation check should be performed--Energy Star products should be used wherever possible to reduce energy consumption by up to 30%-If every household in the US replaced one light bulb with an Energy Star compact fluorescent bulb, it would prevent enough pollution to equal removingone million cars from the road!
PV System Costs--even with an energy conservation of about 30%,the cost of a system needed to produce 25% of the home’s energy is 124,000 dollars.-the average annual utility savings would be 2,877 dollarswith a lifetime savings (25 years) of about 71,992 dollarsand a break even time of 14 years…
-Environmentally, this system will eliminate about 425 tons of
carbon dioxide that would be released into the air;
this is equivalent to about 850,000 auto miles.
Importance of University Investment in Photovoltaics--These calculations point to an even greater need for the University’s involvement in photovolatics.-The influential power of UF should be used to invest in new technologies and hopefully affect state and local policies.-All utilities should be involved in net-metering so that PV users can sell power back to the utility company-Because of state rebates and access to net-metering, the same system in Albany, New York would break-even in 1-6 years, rather than 14.
-Investing and research in photovoltaics should be an objective for the University of Florida campus and there are likely many buildings that would be suitable for a system.-For future projects, new Building Integrated Photovoltaics provide PV that actually becomes an integral part of the building’s exterior skin and has reduced installation costs
In conclusion, a photovoltaic system would provide clean power, available backup electricity in the event of a blackout and an investment in future technologies that could influence a more widespread use of renewable energy.
-This would be a significant step for both the university and
the community as we face an uncertain future regarding
the health of the environment and rapidly depleting energy