Solar Power at Culver Academies-A Sustainability Project
Culver is embarking on an exciting new effort to expand our use of renewable energy on campus while providing exciting, hands-on learning opportunities for students and campers. The first phase of this multi-phase project is to install a 24KW array just off of State Road 10.
We need your support to make this project a reality!
Currently, Culver students explore alternative energy throughout our science curriculum, from investigating biofuels and energy storage technologies to calculating greenhouse gas emissions. Some students build “desk top” models of various renewable energy generating systems. These models have proven extremely useful for instructive purposes.
Developing and operating a full-scale solar array on Culver’s campus would significantly increase our students’ research capabilities and learning opportunities. Such a system could be utilized by students in our physics, astronomy, chemistry, environmental science and economics courses, as well as by Woodcraft Campers and Summer School students. As an additional benefit, Culver will generate power, eventually resulting in a positive cash flow for our school. Once operational, over the course of the year these panels should offset the power needs of Beason Hall!
Background: Solar photovoltaic arrays - panels that create electricity directly from solar energy - have been in use for decades, typically for remote applications requiring relatively low power. In the past several years, a combination of better and cheaper PV technology and a growing understanding of the critical role solar power can make in our energy mix, has resulted in larger, commercial scale PV systems being installed across the country. In fact, in 2016, 40 percent of all new generating capacity added to the U.S. electric grid was PV solar, and an estimated 260,000 Americans are employed in the solar industry.
Culver’s initial system will include a total of 3 – 32 panel ground mount tilting arrays. Each panel will have a microinverter attached to it to convert the DC power to AC. Each microinverter reports various parameters (power production, etc.) to a software management system to enable students to understand and explore the physics, engineering and economics associated with solar power. This information will also be invaluable in the maintenance and operation of the panels. The total system size is 24 KW (AC).