Second Applications

Our idea of implementing parking shades into parking areas will not obstruct with daily operations. Simply, the shades will sustain itself and generate all the energy it can throughout the year saving the university on expenses and reducing carbon footprint. The question arises: What more can we do to further reduce our expenses and carbon emission?

University of Houston's main campus is 594 acres with 91% of the total area without buildings (3). If we can utilized this area, the amount of energy we can generate will be unimaginable.

This section will look at how we can modify the landscape of the campus into working generators. 

Incorporating SolarRoadways

At SolarRoadways, the idea of turning pavements into solar panels is already underway. Awarded with a contract of $750000 from the United States Department of Transportation, their idea is made possible (4). If we can incorporate this idea into the pavements around campus, we can generate more energy than just the parking shades alone. 

Research

These calculations are based on statistics provided by the University of Houston and aashe.org on power consumption.

Theoretical: 

  • 91% of University of Houston is free space. That is about 11.6E10^6 sq.ft. 

  • Using commercial solar panels at 18.7% efficiency (4).

  • Each Panel provides 230Watts/Panel

SolarRoadways incorporate safety glass into the panels so that they are safe from foot traffic of students and mobile transportations. We can implement the same idea into the pavements around campus, however, they will require repetitive inspections to ensure the panels are working properly and effectively. 

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Table 1. Specifications from SolarRoadways

With the gross area of University of Houston (free space), the potential of energy generate is 8.0E10^5 kWh for peak daylight. The annual energy generated is 2.92E10^8. However, this is taken without the consideration of pavements that are obstructed by trees, building, or area exclusively for irrigation and landscaping. 

On-Campus Implementation

Roughly, about 40% of the gross area is readily for modifications (walkways, roads, sidewalks). This would reduce the potential energy to 3.2E10^5 kWh per peak daylight, and 1.16E10^8 per year. This is still a tremendous amount of energy that can be generated by utilizing the space around campus.

 

While the University of Houston depends most of its energy consumption from electrical grid and steam, having this implication into the infrastructure around campus will reduce annual expenses from energy consumption. 

 

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Table 2. Energy purchased by University of Houston in 2015

The power generated by the solar pavements will be utilize in buildings and streetlight. With the solar pavements, the annual cost will be reduce by 26.7%. 

Carbon Reduction

The commercial method of producing electricity today is using natural gas which is 32.1% of share total from all other sources in the US (5). With any burning of fossil fuel, there will be carbon emission. As for natural gas, the carbon emission factor is 53.07 kilogram per million BTU of generated electricity (6). Using this factor, the amount of energy provided from the solar pavements will the reduce the carbon emission by 2.1E10^7 kilograms of CO2. 

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Source: epa.gov

Fig1. Total Carbon Emission in US in 2016

In 2016, US alone produced 6,511 million metric ton of CO2 (7). With solar pavements, we can reduce that number by .0003%. It is a mere fraction of our total carbon emission, however, little effort will have the biggest impact in the long run. 

Conclusion

The amount of energy can vary due to climate change, or unforeseen weathers, but nevertheless implications of solar shades and solar pavements will save on expenses and reduce the carbon emission annually.