University Business May 2017 - 28

Here
comes
the SUN
of solar panels and a parking lot canopy
could generate a significant amount of energy for the building.
Location and energy use are factors in
determining whether (and where) solar
makes sense. But cost is one of the biggest considerations-and potential roadblocks-in adopting solar.
State regulations, such as those in North
Carolina, may limit how universities can
fund installations. At North Carolina State
University, projects ranging from parking
deck canopies and rooftop-mounted panels

to solar pavilions and solar-umbrella charging stations have been funded through the
sustainability fund (a student fee), legacy
gifts, grants and donations.
While federal and state tax credits are
often available to help reduce costs, nonprofit colleges cannot take advantage of the
credits. That was the case when William
Paterson University officials started exploring solar energy options a decade ago.
The lack of incentives left two options: Cover the $18 million cost for a
3 megawatt (MW) installation or part-

ner with a private company through a
Power Purchase Agreement, or PPA.
PPAs are contracts between the companies
that generate solar power and the organizations that use it. The college receives a bill
for its solar power use (from installations
that could be on campus or located elsewhere) just like it would if the power was
coming from a coal plant, yet at a reduced
rate. Since the institution doesn't own the
equipment, there are no upfront costs.
William Paterson leaders signed a
15-year contract with Nautilus Solar in

Small but powerful solar installations

When it comes to solar power, some schools are thinking small. These creative solar installations are
generating energy-and buzz-on campus.

Solar wheels: In 2016,
Princeton purchased two
GEM e4 low-speed vehicles
for university art museum
staff to drive between their
offices, the museum and
other campus locations. The
vehicles run on solar panels
(not gas or electricity) that
were mounted on the roofs
of the vehicles as part of an
upgrade package offered
by the manufacturer. The
panels, which look like
space-age luggage racks,
are lightweight and hailand impact-resistant. The
odometers track mileage
and the battery charge.
28 | May 2017

Solar umbrellas: ZON
Powersol manufactures
umbrellas with solarpowered lithium ion
batteries to charge
mobile devices such as
smartphones, tablets and
laptops. The weatherproof
ports can charge up to
three devices at a time
while shading students
from the sun. The solar
umbrellas are being used at
120 campuses nationwide,
including UNC Chapel Hill,
Texas A&M, Arizona State
and UCLA.

Solar picnic tables:
Students at the Catholic
University of America
designed a solar-powered
picnic table as part of a
student design competition
in 2011. The futuristiclooking table, which relies
on solar panels mounted on
the cantilevered overhang
to power its outlets, is
located on a patio on the
Washington, D.C., campus.
Solar picnic tables are also
available through companies
such as EnerFusion and
ConnecTable.

Solar bus shelter lighting:
Students waiting at night for
the shuttle on the campus
of Stony Brook University in
New York benefit from solarpowered lighting in several of
its bus shelters. The panels,
which were mounted on top
of existing shelters, gather
solar energy during the day;
the stored energy is used to
illuminate the shelters at
night. The first panels were
installed in 2011.

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