Agreement to Build Scalable Solar Carport Charging Stations
Inovateus Solar LLC, a U.S. solar power distributor and integrator, recently partnered with GE Energy Industrial Solutions on the installation of one of North America’s largest Electric Vehicle (EV) charging stations at the GE facility in Plainville, Connecticut, the U.S.A.
The dedication to the project took place on May 26, 2011 with CEO of GE Energy Industrial Solutions, Luis Ramirez, joined by Connecticut Governor Dannel Malloy, along with GE and Inovateus Solar contractors and employees, to unveil the GE Electric Vehicle (EV) Solar Carport in Plainville, Connecticut.
“The GE EV Solar Carport Project is an opportunity to deliver a truly sustainable electric vehicle charging solution,” says Paul Singer, General Manager Industrial Technology, GE Energy Industrial Solutions. “Joining forces with Inovateus Solar on the EV Solar Carport helped us deliver one of the largest carports in North America, and we were glad to have both their insight and their dedicated staff on hand throughout the construction process.”
GE uses solar energy and smart grid technology to fully charge up to 13 electric vehicles per day via six Level 2 GE EV Charging Stations. The solar panels on the 216-foot by 40-foot, 40-stall carport will also power all the lighting in the parking lot to offset an additional US$10,000 in energy costs each year.
“GE is partnering with Inovateus to bring the same turnkey solar carport solutions─ scalable to a variety of needs─to a multitude of facilities, including universities, municipalities, office buildings, and sports complexes,” stated General Manager of Marketing for GE Energy Industrial Solutions, Chris Bowler. “Solar carports with electric vehicle chargers offer a win-win opportunity for customers with reduced energy for building owners, revenue opportunities from the sale of Solar Renewable Energy Credits to brokers, and potential tax credits and incentives from federal, state, and local governments.”
The GE EV Solar Carport produces the energy equivalent to power 20 homes per year. The average freestanding home uses approximately 7,000 to 10,000 kW hours per year. With greater than a 25-year lifespan, the EV Solar Carport will annually deliver 125 MW hours via 100 kW DC power.
Inovateus Solar started the project in December, 2010 and completed it in late May, 2011, on time and on budget.
“Our objective with this project is to utilize a mix of installation formats to create a practical on-site ‘lab’ to illustrate a range of design options when creating this type of solar system,” says TJ Kanczuzewski, president of Inovateus Solar LLC. “We are excited to collaborate with GE on this important alternative energy development and education project and look forward to other future projects.”
The carport incorporates GE’s infrastructure technology, utilizing GE EverGold™ Safety Switches and GE Combiner Boxes along with the GE EV Charging Stations. GE’s core AC equipment safely distributes the power generated from the solar panels. The GE EV Solar Carport connects to the grid, where it deposits extra energy and withdraws that energy when needed.
Key Inovateus supplier/partners included Schott Solar for the PV panels and Satcon for the two 100 kW inverters. Inovateus subcontracted the electrical work to Power Systems Electrical Contractors in Far-mington, Connecticut, the U.S.A.
As the general contractor, Inovateus hired Solaire Generation of New York to install a custom version of its Premium Solar Parking Power Plant. The cantilevered roof design protects vehicles and people from the elements while preventing unwanted access to PV panels and electrical systems─including six charging stations. The canopy design also captures and redirects rainwater and snowmelt with its unique decking, gutter and drain system.
“Inovateus assembled an exceptional group of contractors for this project. Solaire Generation was thrilled to have been selected as the solar canopy provider,” says Brian Cuff, director of design and construction. “This project illustrates a truly exciting vision─the integration of GE charging stations, GE power distribution equipment, and solar canopy structures. We believe that it’s a model of integration that may quickly become standard for this type of installation.”
Two Solar Technologies Atop Notre Dame College of Engineering
Inovateus Solar worked closely with the University of Notre Dame to complete the installation of two flexible PV systems on Fitzpatrick Hall, the Notre Dame College of Engineering.
The University’s College of Engineering will use the new 10 kW solar installation as both a power generating system and research and development tool. The unique installation on the rooftop of Fitzpatrick Hall employs two new thin-film solar technologies that students and teachers can monitor for real-time demonstration and instruction. Inovateus Solar and its partners donated the time, engineering, and materials to the University of Notre Dame to make this solar power teaching tool possible.
The new technologies that Inovateus Solar supplies, each of which produces 5 kW of energy, include a peel-and-stick panel application by United Solar Ovonic of Rochester Hills, Michigan. The company’s product is called Uni-Solar PVL-144. The second technology, by SoloPower, based out of San Jose, California, is its new SFX1-i3 210-watt panels. New to the industry, SoloPower is committed to being energy-and-cost-competitive. Both companies donated the solar panels for the project.
As the project integrator, Inovateus Solar also called upon several other key partner suppliers, all of whom either donated their products, labor or deeply discounted them for this one-of-a-kind university demonstration. Shoals Technologies in Portland, Tennessee, provided its combiner boxes. California-based SMA America, the U.S. subsidiary of SMA Solar Technology AG in Germany, supplied the inverters.
“SMA America was thrilled to work with Inovateus Solar on such an exciting project,” said Jurgen Krehnke, President and General Manager of SMA America. “Because it provides a hands-on learning opportunity, while reducing the school’s power consumption and carbon footprint, this solar installation further elevates Notre Dame among academic universities.”
Inovateus Solar donated the services of Midland Engineering Company to physically install the panels over the EPDM roof, and Koontz-Wagner Electric Company to provide its power generation and distribution expertise to the project. Both these companies are based in South Bend.
“We gathered our local resources and decided to do the job as a donation to the University. Our contribution and the generous donations of our partners made the project possible,” JP von Rahl, Inovateus Solar’s Project Manager explains. “Notre Dame is a prestigious University that we knew would benefit for our solar integration expertise. Not only will the installation generate free energy to the university for over 25 years, it provides the Notre Dame alumni a fine example of Inovateus Solar’s installation capabilities that could be applied to alumni owned businesses and facilities anywhere.”
“This is our first job with Inovateus Solar,” said Gregory R. Seiss, Manager of Service Operations for Midland Engineering. “They have a great reputation, not only in the Midwest, but also nationally. We look forward to working together on more projects in the future. They are very organized and had a plan to execute all the systems being installed.”
Erin Hafner, Program Manager for The Office of Sustainability at Notre Dame University, said the project is closely aligned with the school’s sustainability strategy in that the renewable energy generated will be carbon-free and directly support the goal of reducing the University’s carbon footprint. The power generated by the installation is equivalent to the energy needed to power two homes─about 15,000 kW hours per year.
“The solar installation also supports the University’s research mission,” Hafner added, “by providing a monitoring system for faculty and students to gather and analyze real-time data on outputs of the system.”
Inovateus Solar has extensive experience in helping colleges and educational institutions with the integration and installation of solar power. From large solar installations at Grand Valley State University near Grand Rapids, Michigan, and the first net-zero school in Richardsville, Kentucky, to smaller educational installs such as Love Creek Nature Center in nearby Berrien Springs, Michigan, Inovateus Solar understands the critical nature of solar power engineering for research and sustainable energy edification.
TJ Kanczuzewski is President of Inovateus Solar LLC (http://inovateussolar.com).
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