Archive for the 'Illinois' Category

Illinois Solar Schools: St Paul of the Cross School

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

The St Paul of the Cross School was founded in 1925 by the Sisters of Mercy and would later be staffed by Dominican Sisters.  The mission of the school was to nurture the adults of tomorrow.  The school is located at 140 S. Northwest Highway in Park Ridge, Illinois and is one of the latest schools in the Illinois Solar Schools Program funded by Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation.   Joan Macpherson is the business manager and is the primary contact for the solar school project.  Lorelei Bobroff is the school principal.

St Paul of the Cross School

The solar electricity system is 1,080 watts (6 Mage 180 watt panels) with an Enphase inverter.  The system was installed by Earth, Wind and Solar.  If you would like to see the electricity generation data, here is the link to their school page and the data link is right above the picture.

St Paul of the Cross School

Solar School at Kimball Hill School in Rolling Meadows, Illinois

Monday, March 4th, 2013

One of the newest schools in the Illinois Solar Schools Program is Kimball Hill School in Rolling Meadows, Illinois.

Illinois Kimball Hill School District 15

Illinois Kimball Hill School District 15

The installation is a 1.2 kW PV system using 5 Wanxiang 230 watt solar panels and an Enphase inverter.  The panels sit at a 30 degree angle and are mounted on the edge of the roof so they are visible to the students at the school for this school year and for many years to come.

The Wanxiang panels are assembled in Rockford, Illinois.

Kimball Hill is an elementary school in Community Consolidated School District No. 15.  Tracey Wrobel is the Principal.  There are approximately 550 students at the school and there will be a web page for this solar school project along with live data at www.IllinoisSolarSchools.org

Maine East HS Solarbration Part 2

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

Solar Panels anyone? That’s right! Maine East High School celebrated its rightfully deserved “Solarbration” on Thursday, September13th, 2012. Many students, teachers, and speakers participated in this event not just to celebrate, but to learn all about solar energy. It all started with energy-conscious students who were in the Renewable Energy Club along with East teachers David Schultz and Rebecca Stewart. They took action and made possible the installation of photo-voltaic panels that contribute to Maine East High School’s energy. These panels generate 1 kilowatt of power.

Exactly how do these solar panels work? As sunlight hits the panel with photons (particles of sunlight), it excites electrons which produce electricity. Photo-voltaic solar cells convert the sunlight into energy. This flow of electrons, or energy, is then led into an inverter, which converts the energy into AC power that is distributed to appliances and outlets inside the house, business, or school. AC power is what televisions, computers, and toasters use when plugged into wall outlets. Simple photo-voltaic cells power watches and even calculators. There are 3 types of Photo-voltaic systems: Utility Grid Interconnected, Off-Grid Independent, and Bi-Modal. Grid Connected systems are the simplest and most efficient Photo-voltaic set up. They are connected to the utility grids inside homes. Off-Grid systems operate without using the utility grid by using batteries as storage. These systems are usually used for buildings which are far away from their utility grids. Bi-Modal systems are similar to the Grid-Connected systems but Bi-Modal systems also use batteries as a backup energy source in case the utility grid fails. If the utility power ever goes out due to a storm, Bi-Modal systems can still work off of the backup battery source. It is basically a combination of the first two systems.

So, why should you buy and install solar panels? For one, sunlight is renewable. “My daughter loves to turn on all the beautiful lights in her room even when it is nice and sunny out.” said vice president John Caravette of Earth Wind and Solar Energy. If you have anyone in your family like that, solar panels will save you the money and energy! The panels don’t take much time to install and they last for twenty to forty years. That’s a long time! The solar energy which is converted into electricity also provides hot water for cleaning purposes, showering, and laundry. The energy is affordable and reliable, it is not dangerous to our health, it protects our environment because it does not pollute our land, water, air; and it does emit carbon dioxide unlike fossil fuels (which release large amounts of greenhouse gases such as carbon and methane). Of course, with pros always come cons. The problem is that photo-voltaic panels have a high initial cost. Also, the direct sunlight current has to be converted into an alternative current that is compatible to our homes. They also need electric storage and the grants cost about $8000 while the panels cost about $9000, as Mr. Schultz explained in his presentation at the “Solarbration.” Although these issues do play a big part, in the long run, solar panels really are what is best for the Earth in order to keep it healthy at a sustainable level.

There are currently companies and organizations that are helping in making people aware of solar energy and the power of the sun so that they may one day be convinced to use it. Companies such as Solar Service offer solar systems to install. The Illinois Solar Energy Association (ISEA) is dedicated to helping people pay less for their utilities and create a cleaner environment.

The “Solarbration” ended on a happy note as students left with pizza-filled stomachs, solar cars, and fresh knowledge about photo-voltaic panels. The event was a great success! Go Maine East!

Amisha Patel

Maine East HS Solarbration Part 1

Thursday, September 20th, 2012

On Thursday, September 13th, afterschool Maine East High School hosted a celebration in honor of solar panels installed the previous summer on the school’s property. The celebration was referred to as a “Solarbration”. Held in the Faculty cafeteria, the event highlighted the benefits of renewable energy as well as gave students a chance to interact with professionals in the field such as representatives from the same company that installed the school solar panels. Maine East Physics Teacher, Dr. David Schultz, gave a brief presentation on the logistical aspects of the solar panels and how they operated. Representatives from two different renewable energy companies spoke about the potential of renewable energy, its efficiency and how the industry was expanding rapidly. After speaking section of the event, the attendees participated in fun activities, one of which was a solar car race. Students also got the opportunity to interact with the representatives from the renewable energy companies on a one-to-one basis as they asked the representatives questions after the presentation. The representatives from the solar energy companies had also set up a stall that demonstrated how many forms of renewable energy worked and included a lot of information regarding the usefulness of this type of energy. Pizza was also served during the event.

During his presentation, Dr. Schultz explained the difficult process and hard work that culminated in the installation of the solar panels. The effort to put in solar panels was an initiative taken by the Maine East Renewable Energy Club. The club originally applied for I L I T grant from the State of Illinois so that they could explore renewable energy. They spent one year examining different types of renewable energies, and even constructed a decision matrix. The result of all this contemplation was the decision that solar energy panels would be the best fit for Maine East. After the Renewable Energy Club had come to that conclusion, they worked on a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Foundation. The grant was approved and provided the club money for the purchase and installation of solar photovoltaic panels. The total money awarded through the grant to the club was a hefty sum of $8000. Mr. Schultz explained that solar photovoltaic panels work by taking sunlight and converting it directly into electrical energy. He also spoke about different solar panel such as solar thermal panels that focus on light onto liquid, heating the liquid as a result. The solar panels that had been installed generate 1 kW per hour during peak sunlight and add that energy to the Maine East electrical grid, reducing the school’s carbon footprint. Maine East is one of few schools in the state of Illinois and even in the nation to have this renewable energy tool.

Earth, Wind and Solar Energy representative Mr. John Caravette pointed out several of the problems with the current consumption of fossil fuels and how it is contributing to the global warming crisis. Commenting on how renewable energy could offset the consumption of fossil fuels Mr. John Caravette said “renewable energy has become more affordable and efficient. I want to leave the world a cleaner place for my grandchildren and renewable energy goes a long way towards doing that.” He also shared with the audience trends with the kilowatt hours that the Maine East solar panels produced. This was data that was viewed online. Mr. Caravette suggested to the students that they should think about pursuing a career in the environmental field. He spoke about how the environmental field is one of the fastest growing industries in the world.

Lisa Albrecht of the Nile Solar Service also spoke at the celebration. She told students to find their passion. “Find a problem in the world that really makes you mad and work towards fixing it” said Ms. Albrecht. She emphasized how high school students in the audience were at the very important point of their lives, the point at which they were choosing which colleges something which would have a significant impact on the direction of their lives.

The Solarbration was a very well organized event and was attended by not only students from East high school but also by members of the community. The audience had a great opportunity to learn about the environmental field and specifically about different forms of Renewable Energy Club. Credit must be given to the advisors and the members of the Maine East Renewable Energy Club for providing the school and the community with such an opportunity.

Syed Matin

Attea Middle School is newest Illinois Solar School

Sunday, September 16th, 2012

There is a solar school in Glenview, Illinois.  Attea Middle School is located on Chestnut Avenue and if you are driving by you will see 6 Wanxiang solar panels on the top of the roof.  Those solar panels were assembled in Rockford, Illinois and the installation was done by Renewable Energy Alternatives. (REA)

“We absolutely loved working with Dave Ristow of the Attea Middle School,” said Mark  Brezinski of REA in Arlington Heights, Illinois.  In fact, everyone at the school was very nice and enthusiastic and I am sure the students will get introduced to the solar electricity system the day they get to school for the new year.”

The system size is 1.32 kW and the panels are angled at 33 degrees.  The electricity generated by the solar panels is metered by an Enphase Enlighten data system.

“This will be such a fantastic teaching tool for our staff,” said David Ristow (7th Grade Science teacher).  “I know I will start using it this Fall and I am sure the other science teachers on our other teams will as well.”

Surprise! Surprise! Largest Urban Solar Electricity Installation in the United States is in Chicago

Friday, April 1st, 2011

Courtesy of SunPower Corporation

Courtesy of SunPower Corporation

by Glen Kizer

I know if anyone had asked me in which state is the largest solar electricity system based on any factor I would simply say California to be safe.  New Jersey is coming in with a lot of solar installations, but I have always just assumed that the biggest PV systems in any category would be located inside the State of California.  So it was a huge surprise to me to discover that the largest solar installation in any urban city in the US is actually in the City of Chicago and very close to Lake Michigan.  It is on the South Side of Chicago and not very far from where the Chicago White Sox play baseball.  It is 10 MW so it is a large system for anywhere, but it is huge for a location within an urban US city.

Courtesy of SunPower Corporation

Courtesy of SunPower Corporation

Exelon (the owner of ComEd) completed work on the installation recently and the dedication was on July 21, 2010.  SunPower actually manufactured the solar panels and did a lot of the installation work along with the local IBEW in Chicago, and Turner Construction.  It is located at West 120th Street on 41 acres of ground that was a “brownfield” site and vacant for more than 30 years.  It now has 32,292 solar panels that convert the sun’s rays into clean electricity with zero carbon emissions.

Because it is a “brownfield” site there is a berm around the entire 41 acres as well as a fence and video cameras for security.  The site is now productive, but the water runoff is still controlled so that no water hits the site and then flows off site.  All runoff remains on the site.

The SunPower system has number of trackers that keep the solar panels facing the sun.  So in the morning, the solar panels face the East to catch the morning sun.  In the afternoon, the solar panels face the West to catch the afternoon sun and in the middle of the day most of the 32,000 solar panels face south to catch the midday sun.  It is an amazing site to see these solar panels gradually turning and following the sun every day.

Gabriela Martin of Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and I were there for the tour.  Jim Amedeo of SunPower was our tour guide, and Jim is on site every day conducting tours and making sure the system is working properly.  Gabriela was especially pleased to see the huge solar array since she used to work at Exelon and had suggested this type of installation many years ago.  “It is fun to see my idea turned into reality,” Gabriela said on the tour.  In fact she kept saying over and over again “this is so much fun to see.”

As part of the project SunPower has agreed to donate “solar school” projects  to local Chicago Public Schools so there will be 5 schools with over 2 kW each to add to the Illinois Solar Schools web site.   The schools have been selected, and construction and permitting has begun.

An interesting note: the voltage of the electricity generated by the solar array is 245 watts AC.  Since all of the electricity has to go into the ComEd power grid which operates at 12,000 watts.  This means the voltage is stepped up on the site from 245 to 12,000 before it flows out onto the power grid and supplies electricity for homes and businesses on the south side of Chicago.

Courtesy of SunPower Corporation

Courtesy of SunPower Corporation

Another interesting note:  the array supplies the electricity for the equivalent of about 1,500 homes.

Another interesting note:  the vacant site generated virtually no revenue for the City of Chicago for the past 30 years and it is doubtful that anything would have ever been built on the site because of the tremendous cost of “fixing” the environmental problems on the site.  Today the site is generating revenue for the City of Chicago.

Solar Panels

Solar Panels

Gabriela

Gabriela Martin of Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and Jim Amedeo of SunPower

Gabriela

Gabriela Martin of Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation and Jim Amedeo of SunPower

Solar Panels

Solar Panels



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