The photo on the left shows a construction crew installing solar photovoltaic (PV) panels on the roof of Gundersen’s underground parking garage in La Crosse, WI, during the summer of 2008. The 56 kW system powers a significant amount of the lighting in this garage which was the first LEED certified parking garage in the nation. The cost of solar PV systems has dropped significantly in recent years and there are many parts of the U.S. that have a significant solar resource worth harvesting. Solar has several significant advantages such as free fuel, no emissions, relatively easy permitting and regulations, low maintenance, and short lead-times. In addition, they can often be placed on rooftops and integrated within urban areas. Although solar is an intermittent resource of energy, PV systems are well matched to electricity demand meaning that they produce the most power on hot, sunny days when electricity demand is at its highest. The biggest challenge to solar power is still its upfront costs but global demand for these systems is driving improved manufacturing efficiencies and lower costs to potential customers each year.
The photo on the right shows Gundersen engineer, Rick Vogel standing next to several inverters within the parking garage that convert solar PV systems direct current (DC) to alternating current (AC) which can be used by the electric systems within the garage and clinic. There are 9 inverters that convert the power from the system. The output of the system is monitored remotely for performance through a building automation system. Solar power may be a viable renewable technology for your application.
Learn more about solar PV and other renewable technologies at www.gundersenenvision.org