University of Central Florida Knights get SunSense
Monday, May 7, 2012
by: Chris Castro, UCF Alum and Founder & Executive Director of IDEAS for Us
For those of us that were born at the close of the 20th century, the problems of the past are ours to address. If we do not learn from them, we will set ever worse problems for the future. One way to transform our society is to begin incorporating sustainable energy and the next generation of technologies to increase productivity, provide economic vitality, incorporate social responsibility and lessen our impacts on the global environment.
As an emerging social eco-preneur, I’ve been driven by a passion for change and the will to lead by example and make a positive difference in the world. In March 2011, on a bright Florida afternoon, I stumbled upon the Progress Energy SunSense Schools grant. I wanted to take this as an opportunity for my alma mater, the University of Central Florida, to become the centerpiece of a strong focus on renewable energy and energy-efficiency that can be expanded into the community and leave a lasting legacy for generation to come.
Chris Castro, UCF Alum and Founder & Executive Director of IDEAS for Us
The $750,000 grant would help to implement a 100 kW solar photovoltaic array with a goal of enhancing understanding and awareness of renewable energy among students, faculty and school administration.
Working as the Campus Outreach Coordinator for the UCF Department of Sustainability & Energy Management (SEM), I quickly scheduled a meeting with Director David Norvell who gave me full approval to develop a proposal. Over a 2 week period, I worked feverishly to draft an integrated plan partnering with trusted technology providers and installers who assisted in the full implementation process, from consultation to installation. The full team included Dioko Energy, TerraSmart Racking, Danbar Electric, Matern Engineering, and UCF SEM.
Installing the SolarWorld solar system at the University of Central Florida
With over 56,000 universities students attending UCF, making it the 2nd largest in the nation, UCF had a great advantage over other applying universities with our ability to educate a larger audience of students, facility, administration, and community members.
In August 2011, Progress Energy announced our selection over the University of Florida. We quickly moved on to the process of implementation. UCF Project Manager Curt Wade helped assist in the procurement and took over the development for the next 4 months, including the installation of over 440 Sunmodule™ solar panels from SolarWorld and two 50 kW Satcon Inverters.
See a video of the construction and installation of the solar system.
Completed SolarWorld solar system at the University of Central Florida
Now, nearly 8 months later, UCF is producing enough power from the sun to offset the consumption of one of its largest garages, across from the UCF Recreation & Wellness Center, the 2nd highest traffic area on campus. This array will undoubtedly be a centerpiece of a strong focus on renewable energy in Central Florida and spur a transformation to create a climate neutral university by 2050.
Top view of the SolarWorld solar system at the University of Central Florida