Solar charging station planned for student use
Published: Sunday, February 21, 2010
Updated: Sunday, February 21, 2010 19:02
UCF is taking another step toward becoming a more environmentally friendly campus by providing a way to charge electric vehicles.
The solar charging station is located in the D1 lot on the east side of Memory Mall.
This project allows UCF to charge electric vehicles by plugging them into an electrical outlet at the station.
The carport uses solar panels to produce electrical energy.
On Feb. 12, the station began feeding power back into the main power grid of the campus, which reduces UCF's electric bill.
The project will be a producer of monthly recurring income as opposed to having a monthly cost, said Adrian Baus from Matern Professional Engineering Inc.
"This facility provides a working demonstration that, on a net energy basis, electric vehicles can be powered from the sun, a very clean and abundant source of renewable energy," said Baus, who is a design engineer of the project.
Construction began in November, and the station opened in January.
The total cost of the project was about $380,000, including structural construction, solar panels and electronic hardware.
The cost was covered by a research grant from the Florida Energy Systems Consortium.
"We are trying to bring green energy to UCF with an innovative and technological piece of equipment," said Russell Garrison, project manager for the contractor of the project, Wharton-Smith Inc.
There is no monthly cost for operation and maintenance of the panels, said John Shen, who is the principal investigator of the project and a professor in the UCF School of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science.
If a vehicle uses more than 10 kilowatt-hours of power, there is a charge for the electricity from the campus' power grid, Shen said.
Otherwise, use of the carport is free. There is a plan to have a payment mechanism installed.
The solar charging station provides four parking spots, each with its own charging outlet for a vehicle.
Even on a cloudy day, the electrical energy for the charge will be pulled from UCF's main power grid to the panels so the vehicle can still be charged, Garrison said.
"Each parking space has a standard 120-volt, 20-amp outlet and two of the spaces also include 240-volt, 20-amp outlets to support larger electric vehicles," Baus said. "All of the pedestals are reconfigurable and include provisions to accommodate future vehicle charging configurations as they are developed and come into use."
The facility will first serve as a test bed for research, but at the same time will provide charging function for UCF fleet vehicles that can plug in.
Eventually, students will be able to use the facility after plug-in vehicles start to enter the market, Shen said.
Baus said the solar carport includes renewable energy production and support for zero emission vehicles, making it a very "green" project.
If the popularity of plug-in style electrical vehicles like the Toyota Prius PHEV and the Chevrolet Volt continues to grow, students could use the solar panel area to power up their vehicles, Shen said.
Plans to expand the facility will provide parking and convenience, hopefully encouraging more students and faculty to drive plug-in hybrid vehicles, Shen said.
"I think that it shows that the campus and department are looking ahead for the future to move forward," Garrison said.