Solar Energy at Saint Paul Public Schools
TYPES OF SOLAR
There are two types of solar energy technologies: photovoltaic and solar thermal. Photovoltaic (PV) panels use semiconductors to transform solar energy into electricity that can be used within a building or sent back to the electrical grid. Solar thermal panels have a working fluid that absorbs solar energy in the form of heat that is then used to produce hot water for use in the building. SPPS currently owns one of each type of solar array.
SPPS Solar Resources
Solar Feasibility Criteria:
Less than 5 years old roof or getting a new roof in 5 years.
More than 2,000 sq.ft Area
Minimal interference from RTU, vents equipment, skylights
Orientation to sun, amount of shade, trees, etc
"It is far less expensive to save a kilowatt of energy than it is to produce a kilowatt of energy."
ENERGY EFFICIENCY PYRAMID
image credit: VITAL Group of Companies
POTENTIAL FOR GROWTH
Community Solar Subscription
A cost effective way to add more solar energy to our portfolio is to subscribe to a community solar garden. A solar garden is a community shared PV solar array or "garden" that provides electricity to grid-connected subscribers. SPPS would enter a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) with a solar developer to launch construction of a solar garden. In 2018 SPPS issued an RFP to solar developers that lays out the terms of the agreement to ensure SPPS is protected should the panels underperform and that SPPS benefits from reduced electricity rates while also ensuring that the energy saving measures already in place for SPPS remain available to the District. SPPS received no responses to the release of the RFP in 2018. In Minnesota, there is a clause that the solar garden must be located in an adjoining county. SPPS is located in Ramsey County, a very urban county. Most new or current solar garden projects are being built in southern Minnesota counties
Solar Roof Feasibility Study
Additional solar arrays can be installed on the roofs of SPPS buildings, but there are many considerations that need to be taken into account, including financial benefits, maintenance/ownership implications, legal considerations, and environmental impact. A solar array feasibility study was undertaken in 2019 to determine which SPPS buildings would be good candidates for installation of a rooftop solar array. Read more about the study..