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 near the entrance to the Woodcraft Camp.
We need your support to make this project a reality!
Currently, Culver students explore alternative energy throughout our science curriculum, from investigating biofuels to modeling wind turbine designs to calculating greenhouse gas emissions. Currently students build “desk top” models of various alternative 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 scale up 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.
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.
Culver’s initial system will include a total of 3 – 32 panel ground mount tilting arrays, for a total of 96 Solarworld SW290 panels, rated at 290 watts each. Each panel will have an Enphase M250 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). The system will connect to a panel box at the Penske building about 650 feet away by an underground power cable. When fully operational, the panels should produce about 15% of the power needed by the Woodcraft Camp during its peak demand.