Welcome back guest blogger Jane Sullivan MTD’s Sustainability and Transportation Planner!
Spotlight on Solar
The newest and, arguably, most exciting sustainability project at MTD utilizes the single most abundant energy resource on Earth—solar energy. According to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) approximately 173,000 terawatts of solar energy strike the Earth continuously. That is more than 10,000 times the world’s total energy use. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) notes that more energy from the sun falls on the Earth in just one hour than is used by everyone in the world in one year. Needless to say, there is plenty to go around!
A Solar Array
A 296.94 kilowatt (kW) photovoltaic system is currently being installed on the roof of MTD’s Maintenance building at 803 E. University Ave. in Urbana. This project was made possible thanks to funding from the Illinois Department of Transportation’s (IDOT) Downstate Operating Assistance Program.
MTD embarked on this project with the goal of building a clean energy generating system to supplement and displace the Maintenance Department’s purchased energy needs. Thanks to Dr. Xinlei Wang, Associate Professor of Bioenvironmental Engineering in the Department of Agricultural and Biological Engineering at University of Illinois for his initial research on the project. We expect the solar array to generate approximately 347,218 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year. A large benefit of this system is the avoidance of power plant emissions. MTD’s solar array is expected to save 270 tons of greenhouse gas emissions every year.
The anticipated solar energy generation is equal to about one quarter of this facility’s electrical demand. Installing a solar array is an important step in MTD’s vast sustainability goals. In the future, we hope to continue to increase the District’s renewable energy usage. In addition, all MTD facilities are constantly striving to decrease overall energy consumption through equipment upgrades and changes in practices. We have even joined (and helped sponsor!) the Urbana-Champaign Energy Star Challenge to participate in a local energy reduction competition.
The first frames and panels were laid on the roof in November. We hope to have the system up and running in early 2014! Stay tuned for more information and pictures.