Solar Energy Proposal

Project Proposal

Project Title – Partnership for Solar Energy at OWU

Project Participant(s): Ashley Taylor

Description & overview of project:

To start small, there is a capped landfill next to the waste water treatment plant across highway 23 that is waiting to be used. With no future use for this are, I plan to work with Sean Kinghorn and the city to hopefully utilize the 15 acre plot by installing solar panels on the tract of land. To get an idea of how much power can be produced, a 4 to 5 acre plot can generate 1 megawatt, or 1 million watts, of power which in turn can power “400 to 900 homes” (http://www.commodities-now.com). From this project, solar energy will be produced to benefit both the treatment plant and the Ohio Wesleyan community by splitting up to 3 megawatts of renewable energy between the city and the campus. The city and the waste water treatment plant are very willing to work with the Ohio Wesleyan University to redeem the area to make it a more productive space and in return lease some of the renewable solar energy that is produced. A designated place to tie in to the university meter will have to be determined, along with what the new energy source will power on campus.

With the area being so close to the Olentangy River, regulations, such as zoning, need to be met. Along with city rules, ecological rules need to be followed as well, including whether the area floods, stays significantly dry, or if the previous landfill underneath has any side effects. The area needs to be tested for potential flooding and in which case the panels cannot be too close to the river due to both zoning laws and land conditions. Another aspect to be studied is the stability of the land. Since it is a capped landfill, the area needs to be tested to see if it will be able to withstand the weight of a given amount of solar panels.

Including this 15 acre plot, a potential extension would be to annex an additional 50 acre land tract across the Olentangy. This area is leased to farmers for agricultural use and the contract is about to expire. A potential testing of nutrient values of the plot should be done to see if the area is significantly depleted, in which case, it would be beneficial to use the land as a solar field. This large area, along the the primary 15 acres, would generate enough power to offset all the electricity of the treatment plant and the Ohio Wesleyan campus. To gain access to this power though, there would have to be a connecting power cable traveling over or under the Olentangy, so the ecology of the river has to be studied and considered.

In addition to this primary project, I would like to work on potentially installing solar shade treatments on the windows of the Tree House. A study would have to be done to decide whether the sun hits the house enough to produce energy and how it can be tied into our electrical infrastructure.

Outline of project:

First, we are to meet with the city manager, Tom Homan, and a waste management plant employee, Allen, on October 10th to discuss the project, review potential ideas, and survey the primary 15 acre area. On this trip to the field we hope to briefly survey the surroundings and generate questions to be asked in order to get the project started, the right and legal way. We should be surveying the land and area near the Olentangy River for potential affects from the panels. A test will be conducted to assess the strength of the capped landfill and how much weight it is able to bear as well as whether or not it will have methane leaks or instability in general. An evaluation of the river should be done next to observe any flooding or insecure river bank erosion occurs, along with how the river zoning regulations function. We should therefore talk to the city manager, Tom, as well as Laura Fay from FLOW to obtain the necessary information of constructing a solar field in such close proximity to the Olentangy.

After this first meeting, we hope to discuss further about the 50 acre plot adjacent to the primary area, but just across the river. The area would have to be surveyed, in addition to the likelihood of actually being able to obtain this area and transporting the energy across the river, whether over or under. This will be a later assessment, once the initial project is conducted.

As a last part of my project, I would like to survey the sunlight capacity of the Tree House. I would like to see if it receives enough light and if installing solar shade treatments on the windows would be beneficial to reducing the energy consumption of the house. I will follow a similar procedure as listed in “Solar Energy at OWU” from one of last year’s projects and assess the data for potential advantages.

Aerial view of field of solar panels

Annotated bibliography:

^will help with any questions about the area and the plant, along with city regulations. Also, this site holds valuable contact information.

  • Sean Kinghorn.

^Sustainability coordinator on campus who is a valuable contact and resource. I will be working with him on this project.

  • Newman, Sam; John Krygier, Sean Kinghorn. “Solar Energy at OWU.” Ohio Wesleyan University and Delaware, Ohio Sustainability Region. Thursday, August 30, 2012.

^Project from last year that dealt with solar energy and can be very useful in where solar energy is effective on campus and can be used as a resource to potentially install solar shades in the Tree House.

^used to predict the amount of power a certain number of megawatts can sustain

^Beneficial to know what river regulations and zoning laws. Even learning a bit about the ecology of the river and surrounding land.

^Will be consulted for solar shade treatments for potential installation in the Tree House

One Response to Solar Energy Proposal

  1. John Krygier says:

    Let me know how the meeting went. It should give you a good idea about how to proceed with this very interesting project. Once the meeting happens, the “what next” issues will arise and you can contribute to the work investigating if this project is feasible.

    As for the assessments of the Tree House: look at Sam Newman’s assessment of campus buildings and their solar potential. You just have to extend his methods to the Tree House. I still have the light meter in my office, so you can borrow that.

    John K.

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