Solar Panel Feasibility Report for the University of Tasmania
University of Tasmania
This report evaluates the feasibility of installing a photovoltaic (PV) systems on sites buildings with high electricity cost rates owned by the University of Tasmania. An analysis of each site was conducted to determine PV suitability. The analysis of the sites included: roof orientation, roof size and suitability, site access, shade and the estimated payback period.
The PV evaluation of the PV feasibility of each site showed a total of 9 buildings with high feasibility after a cost benefit analysis. Sites of high feasibility will result in fast payback periods for the University followed by years of decreased energy costs. The other buildings invested had a medium or low feasibility for numerous reasons. These buildings will result in slow payback periods and few energy savings. It is therefore recommended that sites of PV systems are installed at sites of high feasibility and the reduced energy costs can be thought of as an investment.
Photovoltaic (PV) systems are able to convert solar energy into electricity through semi-conductor cells. PV panels produce DC current which is converted to AC current using an inverter: This AC current can then be used as electricity to power the attached building or buildings. The ability of PVs to generate power is determined by the amount of sunlights available to the PV panels and is consequently determined by weather conditions, season, shading, roof and panel orientation and the time of day. A 1 kW PV system will theoretically supply 1 kW of energy in optimum conditions. If a large PV system is installed a surplus of AC current could be created and enter the grid, allowing a 1:1 credit to be received from the electricity retailer Aurora Energy. This credit entitles the site to use the credit in a time of PV energy deficit. Credit is most likely to be received during the summer months, when PV conditions are frequently ideal and energy usage may be lower due to reduced heating requirements. A deficit period is likely to occur during winter due to short days and less solar energy in addition to increased power consumption from the system.
PV systems are generally installed on buildings but are also successfully utilised on parking meters, motorway barriers and sports ground lights. Finding a location to fit PV panels and inverters is often a challenging as the probability of dust and dirt degrading the system is higher when the system is closer to the ground. The risk of vandalism and accidental damage is also increased. The benefits of PV
PV systems allow buildings to produce a percentage of electricity and therefore reduce the energy cost of the site. Solar energy is a form of renewable energy and is converted to electricity without the emission of greenhouse gases. Every kWh produced by a PV system avoids 0.26kg of Carbon Dioxide equivalent (Dept. of Climate Change and Energy Efficiency 2012). The issues associated with Green House Gas emissions and climate change has made solar and renewable energy a popular alternative. Advancing technology has introduced methods of recycling old PV systems, reducing the initial environmental impacts and costs. Top ranking Australian Universities (such The University of Queensland Victoria University and RMIT) have successfully invested in PV systems and subsequently reduced their energy costs. Solar panels should be viewed as an investment in the University of Tasmania, rather than a cost. As energy costs continue to increase PV systems will continue to reduce energy costs for the life of the installation (up to 30 years).
Students in particular are becoming increasingly aware of environmental issues and concerns. The introduction of PV systems could be used to promote the University, providing additional publicity and potentially encouraging both local and international...
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