Solar Projects

SRC Solar PV install

SRC Solar PV

Solar PV power for UAF

When analyzing the potential for integrating renewable energy systems into the current UAF power system, wind and hydro capacity are negligible on campus. In Alaska, solar-thermal-heating is the most efficient way to capture solar radiance, due to the low solar density of our northern latitude. However, because of the power plant’s ability to produce hot water from waste-heat, this technology would be redundant. Thus, solar photovoltaic (PV) is appropriate for UAF.

UAF Student Recreation Center (SRC) Solar PV

The first student solar project on campus was conducted in 2012 on the SRC, designed to be a 13kW system. The SRC system replaces about 4 percent of the 2009 yearly load when it was designed.  As energy efficiencies within the SRC increase so will this percentage. There is no need for batteries; all of the power produced by the panels is utilized immediately or if not needed by the SRC, the electricity will be used by the university grid system. The SRC has a higher summer load than winter load. This is due to the need to circulate more air through the building in the summer months. 

 Solar Panels for Student Recreation Center (.PDFs)

A survey was conducted in November of 2010 to better understand the students stance on Solar PV at UAF.

Alexander Bergman, Office of Sustainability worker and CTC student, helped to install the SV Solar PV system.

Sustainable Village Solar PV

The Sustainable Village Solar project is a partnership between the student sustainability/RISE board, University of Alaska Community and Technical College, GVEA, UAF students and the Cold Climate Housing Research Center.

 UAF and CTC students installed 4 of the planned 6 solar PV arrays as a 2012 summer class. The 12.9kW system came on-line in early October and distributes power into the GVEA grid.  In the summer of 2012 two more arrays were installed. Now finished, this system produces 19.35kW.

Jessie Huff leads students Menachem Abramowitz and Maura Sateriale in the Firehouse solar intallation.

University Avenue Fire Station

The University Fire Station with help from a RISE grant installed a 3.2kW solar array in the summer of 2012. The energy is connected to the GVEA’s utility grid through the SNAP program.

Office of Sustainability student workers installed the system will help from local electricians and the fire department staff. In 2013, another 3.2kW system was installed bringing the total available output to 6.4k-W.

“The Department desires to be good stewards of the resources provided by the University of Alaska and the University Fire Service Area in the Fairbanks North Star Borough. However, there are important intrinsic benefits as well. Installing a solar array will demonstrate to the public, Borough officials, and our peers in the Interior Alaska Fire Service that the University Fire Department is leading the charge towards sustainable operations, and that solar power is economically and logistically viable for public industrial-type applications. Furthermore, this would reinforce the value of sustainability and appeal to the student firefighters we are training for futures in emergency services”.

Douglas Schrage

Alaska: A Unique Environment for Renewable Energy

UAF has an obligation and opportunity to foster sustainability in the north. Alaska is rich in renewable energy potential and is poised to grow our local economies by utilizing these. This is particularly true in rural Alaska where the high cost of fuel (mostly diesel and gasoline) creates a greater economic incentive, compared to populated grid-tied areas. Thus Alaskan rural communities are in the unique situation to lead the world in small scale, interrogated renewable energy systems and UAF has the opportunity to exemplify this potential and to help Alaska emerge with leading experts and exporters of advanced renewable energy knowledge and technique.

 Through renewable energy integration and a holistic approach to sustainable community planning we can empower northern communities and thus increase self-reliance. Each successful efficiency upgrade, weatherization, and renewable energy project helps secure our community from the volatility of the fossil fuel market. The main projects and initiatives supported the Office of Sustainability and the RISE Board are strategic steps in fostering cultural change and demonstrating an institutionalized commitment to energy awareness, sustainable thinking and local economic development on the UAF campus and connected to northern communities.

 Taking advantage of this solar resource is demonstrative of how sustainable thinking can attract investment, boost local economy and knowledge, lessen or dependence on fossil fuels, and create reliable priced energy. The University of Alaska Fairbanks is witnessing a rapid increase in efforts to measure, monitor and foster sustainability on campus. With the top down support of the Chancellor Brian Rogers, sustainability is becoming part of UAF’s culture and curriculum. 

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