ECE ILLINOIS Building's solar panels push towards net-zero goal
Beginning in April, sunlight powered about 25% of the labs, offices, and classrooms in the ECE Building. Thanks to a $3 million rooftop solar array, the building is pushing closer to its ultimate goal of "net-zero" energy use. With 950 solar panels spanning two levels of the rooftop, 60 are dedicated to research use and can produce up to 275 kilowatts.
The solar panel system was initially designed to cover 20% of the building's electrical consumption according to The News-Gazette's interview with ECE ILLINOIS Director of Facilities Timothy Joseph Newman. It is currently generating about 25%.
"At times when the sun is bright but building energy needs are low, the extra power is a resource for the overall campus grid," said ECE ILLINOIS Professor Philip T Krein who supervised this project. This would help the University meet its goal of reducing energy emissions by 30% from 2008 to 2020.
In the future, the campus hopes to allocate part of the second Illinois solar farm planned in Savoy to the ECE Building so that 100% of its energy will come from sustainable sources.
After finishing the construction of the solar panels in April, Krein said, "With this final piece in place, we can really learn a lot more about what it takes to design, construct and operate low-energy buildings. We have tools to learn about better ways to expad the use of solar energy."
Read more about the solar panels from The News-Gazette.