Zapotec Collaborates with Harvard to Finalize PV SystemCategory: Project Updates
This month Zapotec has been working hard to wrap up several different projects throughout eastern Massachusetts. Most recently, our engineers completed a 14 kW rooftop solar PV system for the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study at Harvard University.
In January 2015, Zapotec was invited by Radcliffe’s Facilities Department to help secure a loan from Harvard's Office for Sustainability. The solar engineers at Zapotec submitted a preliminary design of the PV system as part of the application for Harvard’s Green Revolving Fund (GRF), a $12 million fund that provides the capital necessary to complete projects that reduce the University’s overall impact on the environment. After the finances were discussed and a budget was settled upon, Zapotec received approval to continue work on the design, procurement and construction of the solar PV system as an EPC Contractor.
Before the system’s construction, Paul Lyons, CEO of Zapotec Energy, had the opportunity to present to the building’s occupants, which included students from the Harvard Institute for Learning in Retirement as well as members of the facilities team. Lyons described how solar energy works and explained why the roof is a good match for a PV system. Not only were the students interested in the construction that would take place on their building, but they were eager to learn more about the benefits of solar energy.
The final installation was completed by Andy Belcastro and his team from Belcastro Electric, a small electrical contracting business headquartered in Mendon, MA.
In addition to the roof’s steep slope, the various gables of the roof’s surface presented a more technical challenge for the design engineers at Zapotec. With a single string on a southeast facing gable and the rest of the array facing southwest on the roof, at least three maximum power point trackers had to be part of the inverter design. Ultimately, multiple small Fronius inverters were used to optimize the overall efficiency of the PV system.
The solar PV system at the Radcliffe Institute is expected to produce 17,953 kWh of electricity each year. This system is now one of several solar energy projects completed by Zapotec Energy for Harvard University. “It has been a privilege for us to work with such a top-notch team from Harvard’s Radcliffe Institute,” says Paul Lyons. “The level of communication that took place between all of our teams allowed for a smooth, seamless process.”