Considering the unknown future consequences increased population growth and energy usage may have on our atmosphere, we must begin to adopt solar as an alternative method for power generation at all municipal levels.
We examined different methods of implementing solar energy as a source of power and electricity for the University of Houston. We ultimately focused on adding on to existing infrastructure. In doing this we conducted research into practical applications of the carports for the university and researched two methods to finance the project.
The sun provides around 84 TW of energy each day, and the worldwide energy consumption is estimated to be around 12 TW yet solar energy is only a minor energy source for countries around the world.
The proposed solar carport will produce 7 M kWh of energy each year which alternatively equals to 5,599 tons of carbon dioxide emissions per year from natural gas power plants producing the same amount of energy.
In the year 2016, United States emitted 6,511 M metric tons of carbon dioxide. If our proposed project is implemented across the country in different infrastructures such as universities, commercial buildings, and etc., our country’s carbon dioxide emission will be considerably decreased.
University of Houston
University of Houston has an estimated 11.6x106 square feet of free space. If solar panels are to be implemented on the area’s in the university that are available for modifications (walkways, roads, sidewalks), 1.16x108 kWh of energy can be produced each year. The university’s energy consumption is around 1,563,649.85 MMBtu. If solar pavements are to be utilized, the annual cost of the university’s power consumption can be reduced by 26.7%.
We found that the university has 5 potential areas that can be implemented with solar panels. The East Garage alone has 85,000 square feet of area, and Parking Lot C has around 207,800 square feet of area.
Constructing a solar carport in Parking Lot C can reduce the universities power consumption cost by $750,000 per year. The project cost of $8 M can be payed off in 12 years with the energy cost recovery.
There are also solar energy incentives that can decrease the cost of the project such as the Austin Energy Program that offers rebates from $0.50 to $0.80 per Watt of Solar Power installed and a payment of $0.113 for every generated kilowatt-hour.
The University of Houston currently produces carbon dioxide emissions through dependence on grid-purchased electricity. The solar carports and solar pavements project can give the University the ability to be independent while decreasing its CO2 emissions by 5,599 tons per year.
With the University of Houston opting with the purchase agreement, the university can decrease it electricity costs from the Houston average of $0.11 to $0.07. The PPA will also dissolve run on costs for maintenance that could occur from owning solar systems.
The project itself emphasizes on the reduction of annual carbon dioxide emissions. Implementing solar carports provides the incentives to develop other ways to utilize solar energy and further pushes the university's ability to produce electricity independently, therefore, reducing its carbon footprint. Solar carports and solar pavements, although already established in some private organizations, are still not widely utilized, our project can provide added information for other organizations looking into solar energy. Additionally, the electric car charging stations within the carports can possibly incentivize the increased use of electric vehicles as the scarcity of charging stations has been a major hurdle for the adoption of EVs.
The responsibility for ensuring a sustainable water future lies with the community as a whole; everyone has a role to play. By implementing direct water conservation strategies, the University of Houston simultaneously enacts a campus-wide sustainability initiative that ultimately attracts prospective students and explores the necessity for interdisciplinary approaches to building everyday water conservation habits and public education in sustainability.
Monthly and yearly production and university savings