Solar Consulting

Team Members: Katie Adair (4th Year Environmental Eng), Jenna McClintock (4th Year Electrical Eng), Sophie Owen (4th Year Electrical Eng), Mia Pudas (4th Year Electrical Eng), Aidan Stead (4th Year Mechanical Eng), and Robert Stewart (4th Year Electrical Eng)

The main objective of the Solar Consulting project is to research and design solar arrays for local organizations. Power usage and shading data for each site will be collected and analyzed. Software, such as PVWatts and SAM, will be utilized to complete production modeling. After this, the team will make their recommendations on solar array size and location to the interested parties. Additionally, a financial feasibility assessment will be conducted using data provided by each organization.

The two organizations that the team has been in contact with are Interlochen Center for the Arts and Beaver Island, MI. Beaver Island is a small island located near the Straits of Mackinac. The team was approached by members of the community who are interested in installing a solar array on their island. Since energy costs on the island are high and power delivery can be unreliable, there is motivation for community members to have a hand in producing their own energy. This will reduce energy costs and increase reliability, in addition to helping reduce dependence on fossil fuels. The team will visit Beaver Island in the fall in order to conduct a shading analysis of the potential solar array sites. In addition to completing design work, the team will also help community members conduct surveys and help educate island residents on solar arrays.

Interlochen Center for the Arts is located in Interlochen, MI. Jay Meldrum was in contact with the Arts Academy through the Academy’s interest in putting up solar for their school. Jay, Robert, and the Academy met to discuss what that could look like for them. The school has unused property that is ideal for solar. They have several acres of open farm fields that can be taken advantage of for a large solar project. This means that shading analysis via software will suffice for sizing the design. The school would like to move towards a green solution to power on campus rather than contributing to the current grid load adding to the need to generate via other, unsustainable means. Their plan is to size the project large enough to power the school without drawing from the grid. On a good day, the idea would be to sell power back to the utility company. Not only would the solar help the school go green, the students will have an opportunity to learn more about solar and renewable energy with a real example powering their facilities.

In addition to design work, there are two projects that the team will develop. The first is a website calculator that will be refined from the previous GeoSolar team. This website calculator will allow users to input variables such as location, sun impact, solar panel type, and more. The team will need to refine the calculator so it is more versatile for general use. Additionally, a template for future solar projects will be created in order to guide members of the Alternative Energy Enterprise through the solar design process. The second project is branding and advertising. This team will be beneficial to the community only if the community uses it. In the future, the team hopes to work with people in the Keweenaw Community to help them design solar for their homes and businesses. Therefore, outreach and branding will be very important for the success of this project. If any local community members are interested in solar, please reach out to the Enterprise. We would love to provide recommendations on the best solar system design to fit your needs!

Beaver Island Project Outline