UCF Leads National Team to Study Floating Solar

Photo courtesy of Orlando Utilities Commission.

The University of Central Florida will lead a nationwide team to study the performance and long-term scalability of floating solar panels thanks to a $1 million grant from the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Energy Technologies Office.

UCF’s Florida Solar Energy Center was selected to study the performance of floating photovoltaics (FPV) solar technology and how it interacts with water quality and biodiversity in Florida, California and Colorado.

The unlikely combination of electricity and water is the foundation of an emerging energy market in the United States. FPV is electricity-generating solar panels, affixed atop buoyant platforms that float on water.

Limited land availability, reduced site-preparation costs, and the opportunity to utilize man-made bodies of water, such as reservoirs, retention ponds and wastewater storage ponds, are among the reasons for FPV popularity. According to an October 2018 World Bank report, floating solar grew 100 percent from 2014 to 2018, although primarily outside of the U.S.

It is speculated that floating solar results in cooler cell temperatures, and subsequently should be more efficient than land-based systems. FPV may also reduce evaporation rates and algae. Research documenting the performance, durability and environmental impacts of floating solar is limited, but that’s about to change. The research project is expected to begin early next year.

“We’ll be taking an in-depth look at the floating photovoltaic systems over the next three years,” says John Sherwin, principal investigator of the project and program director at FSEC. “This project is the first of its kind in the U.S. and we are excited to be part of a world-class research team that will collect critical data on this emerging technology.”

Partners include: University of California Davis, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Orlando Utilities Commission, City of Orlando and Ciel & Terre.

The project will monitor the performance, durability, water-quality impacts and biodiversity interactions of four existing floating solar sites across diverse climatic regions: humid subtropical in Florida; subarctic/boreal climate in Colorado; and two warm summer/Mediterranean-type climate sites, in California. Land-based systems in those same regions will also be monitored for comparison.

UC Davis will lead the environmental analysis part of the project.

“We’re particularly interested in how floating photovoltaics affect water quality and interactions with wildlife, including birds, bats, turtles and other aquatic life,” says  Rebecca R. Hernandez, an assistant professor at UC Davis and co-director of the Wild Energy Initiative. “A better understanding of those impacts can help us make better decisions about siting renewable energy infrastructure and can reduce future costs.”

The Orlando Utilities Commission was an early adopter of floating solar and installed a 31.5-kilowatt system in February 2017. The floating solar array, located on a pond at the Gardenia Operations Facility (near John Young Parkway and I-4) and tied to the electric grid, will be part of the study.

“We continue to work closely with our partners to enhance solar deployment in Central Florida, and to determine how best to implement the latest technologies,” says Justin Kramer, supervisor of Emerging Technologies at OUC. “With so many ponds and lakes already devoid of trees, there is potential to greatly increase our solar output.”

Floating photovoltaic systems covering 27 percent of the identified suitable water bodies could produce almost 10 percent of current national generation, according to National Renewable Energy Laboratory researchers.

Please follow and like us:
error

City of New Smyrna Beach Hires FSEC to Conduct Building Audits and Solar Studies

New Smyrna Beach seal. In center of seal are boats without sails sitting in water, with palm leaves on edges.

The City of New Smyrna Beach is considering solar and renewable energy resources for their municipal facilities, and has hired FSEC’s interdisciplinary team of energy analysts and solar engineers to conduct energy audits and solar feasibility assessments for 18 facilities.

The energy audits will identify cost-effective measures for reducing building energy consumption in order to optimize the expenditures for solar equipment. The solar feasibility assessment will detail the best options for renewable energy, including sizing, installation costs, maintenance costs, system life expectancy, and return on investment. FSEC will provide recommendations for reducing the city’s overall electrical demand and also for developing attainable goals for incremental solar and renewable energy installations.

For more information, contact Faith Miller, New Smyrna Beach Maintenance Operations Director, fmiller@cityofnsb.com, or Colleen Kettles, FSEC Program Director, ckettles@fsec.ucf.edu.

Please follow and like us:
error

WARNING: SCAMMERS Posing as Florida Solar Energy Center

Warning sign, red outline triangle with black exclamation point in middle, cludy blue sky background
WARNING! Scammers posing as FSEC.

WARNING: SCAMMERS are posing as the Florida Solar Energy Center. FSEC® has received several reports from consumers that they are receiving multiple calls (from different phone numbers) from a telemarketer posing to be the Florida Solar Energy Center. In some cases, they are even being referred to the FSEC website. FSEC is a research institute of the University of Central Florida (UCF). FSEC will not call consumers to offer help with an electric bill, offer a free estimate, or solicit information for a purchase.

UCF recommends you file a complaint at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC): https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/stop-unwanted-calls-and-texts.

You can also visit the Florida Office of the Attorney General website for Consumer Protection.

Solar contractors must be licensed to do business in the state. You can check licenses at: http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/

Learn how to protect yourself from robocalls: https://consumersunion.org/end-robocalls/

UCF has trademark registrations for FSEC® and other related FLORIDA SOLAR ENERGY CENTER marks.  Unauthorized use is a violation of federal and state laws.

Please follow and like us:
error

Smart Vent Tech Improves IAQ and Saves Money, Energy

By Jennifer Josey
National Renewable Energy Laboratory
February 22, 2018

How many times have you completed a system upgrade for a device only to find that it’s glitchy? No one wants to “upgrade” to downgrade, and we don’t like being inconvenienced as things get “smarter.” This is just as true for our homes. Reducing energy consumption (thereby saving money) is a key driver for smart, integrated tech (think smart thermostats); however, adoption is lower if an upgrade risks compromising resident comfort.

Whole-house, smart ventilation is one such up-and-coming “smart” technology. But before it takes off, there are a couple of hurdles to jump: integration with standard heating and cooling systems, and proving the risks are limited and the benefits are many. Researchers with the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center® (FSEC®), in partnership with Washington State University, are tackling smart ventilation systems head on.

UCF/FSEC researchers Chuck Withers and Dave Chasar installing a mechanical ventilation control unit on a flexible duct.
UCF/FSEC researchers Chuck Withers and Dave Chasar installing a fan on a flexible duct to test an energy-efficient mechanical ventilation control design.

In a first-of-its-kind report, “Field and Laboratory Testing of Approaches to Smart Whole-House Mechanical Ventilation Control,” FSEC documented research on lab and field testing of smart ventilation control (SVC) systems. The report explains that whole-house mechanical ventilation is a critical component to a comprehensive indoor air quality (IAQ) strategy. In addition, these systems can help the residential sector more reliably design, install, and operate mechanical ventilation systems to achieve best-practice IAQ while saving energy and improving comfort, moisture, and peak load impacts.

Read more

Please follow and like us:
error

Installing Solar Electric (Photovoltaic) Systems – An Instructional Program for Contractors, Utilities, Engineers and Code Officials

Adults students in the Installing Photovoltaic Systems course receive hands-on instruction and install PV panels on mock residential roof systems.
Students participate in hands-on lab at FSEC’s Installing Photovoltaic Systems workshop.

The Florida Solar Energy Center® (FSEC®) is offering its five-day course covering the design and installation of photovoltaic (PV) systems January 22-26, 2018, in Cocoa, Florida. This course is intended for technicians, electricians, engineers and other practitioners in the solar, construction, and electric utility sectors. The overall goal is to develop “system-knowledgeable” professionals to help ensure the safety and quality of PV system installations.

  • Hands-on – The course format includes a balance of classroom instruction and actual hands-on work with PV systems and equipment.’s
  • Student-interactive – Demonstration and lab exercises simulate the process of designing, installing and commissioning of residential and small commercial grid-connected PV systems.
  • State-of-the-Art – Emphasis is placed on code compliance and accepted state-of-the-art industry design and installation practice.

The course fee is $995 and registration can be completed online at the FSEC website: https://secure.fsec.ucf.edu/fsecstore/do/product/InstallPV. Each participant receives a copy of the textbook Photovoltaic Systems by Jim Dunlop as well as all instructional materials. Participants successfully completing the course will be awarded a certificate of completion from FSEC and will be eligible to take the North American Board of Certified Practitioners (NABCEP) Photovoltaic Associate Program examination (see below). This course is approved by the Florida Construction and Electrical Licensing Boards for 18 continuing education credits.

FSEC is an approved provider of the PV training that is a prerequisite for the NABCEP Photovoltaic Associate Program examination. Students may register for the Computer Based Test (CBT) after completing the FSEC Installing Photovoltaic Systems workshop. The examination fee is $150. Interested participants will be able to sign up for this exam within two years of completing the workshop. For further information on the NABCEP PV Associate Program, please visit http://www.nabcep.org/associate. FSEC has also achieved the Interstate Renewable Energy Council (IREC) Continuing Education Provider Accreditation for the FSEC Installing Photovoltaic Systems course.

For questions or more information, please contact Colleen Kettles at 321-638-1004 or ckettles@fsec.ucf.edu.

Please follow and like us:
error

Permit-Ready Solar System Certification Now Faster and Cheaper

GO SOLAR Florida. Express PV Certifiction System. Fast. Permit-Ready. Low-cost. https://scp.fsec.ucf.edu/
Express PV Certification now FREE until the end of June.

COCOA, Fla., June 19, 2017— Contractors installing photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in Florida can now obtain permit-ready documents in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new online express solar certification system developed by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)®.

The database-driven, web-based Solar Certification Portal will process inputs from professional engineers and contractors licensed to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in Florida. The output includes an electrical schematic and supporting equipment documentation—which complies with prevailing codes and standards—certified by FSEC and ready for use in the building permit process.

Express system certification only costs $150—a $100 reduction over the current manual system certification fee. Tier 1 PV systems (10kW or less) are eligible for express processing.

Read more

Please follow and like us:
error

Energized Students Infectious at Statewide Renewable Energy Competition

COCOA, June 5, 2017—Nearly 50 schools across Florida—from Key West and Tallahassee—participated in this year’s EnergyWhiz competition last month at the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center.

More than 115 teams, which included nearly 500 students, prepared their projects for competition: model-sized solar cars for the Junior Solar Sprint (JSS), solar ovens for the Cook-off, full-scale photovoltaic panels for Energy Innovations, energy-efficient animal homes for the Critter Comfort Cottage competition, and go-cart-sized electric cars for the Electrathon.

In the longest running event, JSS, cars underwent inspection, design judging, time-trials, and new this year, team interviews. “Questions from judges may sometimes be intimidating, but interviews give students the opportunity to shine when they’ve put their heart and soul into a project,” said Guytri Still, JSS lead design judge and former middle school science teacher.

Long table with students on one side, inspectors on other side. JSS car being weighed in.
Junior Solar Sprint cars are inspected and weighed. Credit: Selina Black

Read more

Please follow and like us:
error

Permit-ready Solar System Certification Now Available Within Minutes

Close up view of photovoltaic panels
Express Photovoltaic System Certification Now Offered

COCOA, Fla., June 1, 2017—Contractors installing photovoltaic (solar electric) systems in Florida can now obtain permit-ready documents in a matter of minutes, thanks to a new online express solar certification system developed by the University of Central Florida’s Florida Solar Energy Center (FSEC)®.

The database-driven, web-based Solar Certification Portal will process inputs from professional engineers and contractors licensed to install photovoltaic (PV) systems in Florida, and produce an electrical three-line schematic and supporting equipment documentation—which complies with prevailing codes and standards—certified by FSEC and ready for use in the building permit process.

In an effort to encourage licensed contractor and engineer feedback, a two-week introductory period will allow use of the new express system free of charge. Beginning June 16, each system certification will only cost $150, a $100 reduction over the current manual system certification fee.

Manual PV system design certification is a labor-intensive and time-consuming process. The new express PV system certification process is expected to dramatically reduce the time and costs associated with permitting rooftop PV systems in Florida.

This new express online certification system results from a three-year program sponsored by Broward County with funding from the US Department of Energy’s SunShot program. FSEC was one of several team members of the Go SOLAR Florida initiative that was established to develop policies and procedures to standardize solar energy permitting and remove institutional barriers across the state of Florida, thereby reducing soft costs associated with rooftop PV system installation.

Access the Solar Certification Portal at https://scp.fsec.ucf.edu/. For questions, contact pvsystem@fsec.ucf.edu or 321-638-1457.

###

PR17-04

Please follow and like us:
error

Inventor of Laser Printer Speaks at UCF’s FSEC on May 18 at 11 a.m.

CANCELLED. Due to unforeseen circumstances, this presentation will be rescheduled.

 

UCF Energy Connections Seminar Series presents, “Imagination versus Knowledge” by Mr. Gary Starkweather, inventor of the laser printer and color management technology.

UCF Energy Connections Seminar Series
Listen. Learn. Connect.

We now live in a world where we have access to stupendous amounts of knowledge. How does this knowledge enable new and innovative ideas or does it? Mr. Starkweather will use the example of the laser printer as insight into imagination and the use of knowledge, and also look at other instances of innovation. Many companies no longer spend much money on

Illustration of light bulb with "idea" written as the filament, doodles all around light bulb, and three pencils in yellow, green and blue with the words creative, knowledge, education
“Imagination versus Knowledge”

research and this is unfortunate. Eli Lilly said that research is the “Soul of the company, the heart of the business.” In 1899, the head of the U.S. Patent department said that the operation ought to be closed down, as all the good ideas have been invented. Since that statement, about 7 million patents have been issued. Imagination is very important. Mr. Starkweather will take a look at it and how it can be supported.

WHERE:
Florida Solar Energy Center, 1679 Clearlake Road, Cocoa, FL 32922-5703

WHEN:
Thursday, May 18, 2017 @ 11:00 a.m.

COST:
Free

Please follow and like us:
error