Solar to generate 50% of school’s electricity

Green Spotlight

Following is an interview with Carroll Brooke, a member of Easton’s Clean Energy Task Force, which proposed and directed the installation of the new solar array system at Staples. This “solar farm” of 990 panels started producing electricity in November 2015. It was financed through a unique state program with no capital outlay from the town and electricity cost savings starting on day one.

What is the system’s capacity?

The system’s capacity is 300 kW (kilowatts). That is 300,000 watts. The capacity measure can be thought of as the size of a pipe. It is the maximum amount of electricity that the system can generate at any time. Think of the system’s capacity like a garden hose. If the spigot is turned on completely, the water surges out at full force and can fill many buckets with water. If the spigot is turned on only partially, a lesser amount of water comes out. If you were to ask how many gallons of water the garden hose can produce, the answer depends on how open the spigot is.

How do weather and seasonal light differences affect the capacity?

In a solar system, the spigot is the environment, the sun and clouds. On clear, sunny days, the spigot is wide open and the system is designed to produce 300 kilowatts, which in one hour would amount to 300,000 watts per hour, or 300 kWh, enough electricity to light 3,000 100-watt lightbulbs (300,000 kilowatts divided by 100). At night there is no production. The spigot is turned off. So the amount of electricity produced depends on the weather. The amount of daylight varies by the season, with the longest days of sunlight in the summer (14 hours) and the shortest in the winter (nine hours). The system’s position on earth relative to the sun, whether toward the equator or closer to the north or south pole, also affects the quantity of light.  And the typical weather conditions, whether cloudy, rainy or snowy, are also factors.

How can we make predictions about how much electricity will be generated?

Fortunately, this information has been recorded for many years for locations throughout the developed world. This meteorological information for Sikorsky Airport is what is applied for Morehouse Road, where Samuel Staples Elementary School is located.

Weather conditions at Sikorsky have been recorded for many years, and the amount of daily sunlight has been recorded. These measures are used to predict how much sunlight will occur at the school and how much electricity production will result. Based on this history, the Samuel Staples solar system should generate 385,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) per year.

How are energy needs being met?

Actual electricity usage at Samuel Staples was 782,200 kWh last year. The solar system, therefore, should generate about 50% of the school’s total electric needs.

For the town of Easton as a whole, electrical needs are expected to be 2,300,000 kWh for the year. The Samuel Staples solar system will therefore produce nearly 17% of the town’s electricity needs.

What’s the next step?

In the next year we plan to begin work on proposals for Phase Two. On completion the combined arrays will generate 100% of the school’s electricity needs and more than one-third of the town’s overall needs.

The Green Spotlight is an occasional piece submitted by the Easton Clean Energy Task Force. If you have ideas for future green spotlights, please email [email protected]

Carroll Brooke at the solar farm at Samuel Staples Elementary School. — Photo by Jeff McNamara

Carroll Brooke at the solar farm at Samuel Staples Elementary School. — Photo by Jeff McNamara

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

  • Beverlee Dacey

    ….and when all is said and done Honeywell will rebate the town how much money
    for the BMS system savings @ SSES we are no longer getting but cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars?

© HAN Network. All rights reserved. The Easton Courier, 16 Bailey Ave, Ridgefield, CT 06877

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress