Morgantown Farmers Market to Produce Power

The Mountain Institute is providing a solar array and vehicle charging station for the new Farmers Market building in downtown Morgantown.  Here is Taylor Kuykendall’s story on Grounded.

The story doesn’t have any information about the capacity of the system, but it does claim that the panels will provide about half the Farmers Market’s power.

We need better information about solar projects in the press if WV citizens are going to learn about how solar power works.  Vague references to savings estimates or “half the power” aren’t good enough.  Tell us how many kilowatts the system capacity is rated for so that people can begin to develop their own understanding of what rated capacity means.

Let’s also hope that the market will have some kind of ground level display of how much power is being generated in real time so that everyone can see how much energy is produced from varying sunlight conditions.

I was just at FERC’s headquarters in DC on Tuesday, and they have a huge display in their lobby about how much energy the 8 solar panels on the roof of the building have produced since 2002.  8 panels?  Really?  FERC is bragging on 8 panels?  I have 6 panels on my measly little system.  I’ll bet FERC has room for at least 50 panels on its roof.

Maybe someone from Morgantown or the Mountain Institute can post a comment with how many panels are planned for the Farmers Market and what their total rated output will be.

5 thoughts on “Morgantown Farmers Market to Produce Power

  1. The Farmers Market system will consist of twelve 260 Watt panels for an installed capacity of 3.12 KW. The system is estimated to produce about 3700 kWh per year or roughly 10 kWh per day. The Farmers Market structure is projected to use a little over 8,500 kWh per year to power LED lighting, plug loads, and the car charger. So that is were the ‘nearly half the power’ comes from.

    We are looking into options regarding a real time display showing production. We like the idea of online production monitoring and will have to see what is possible. The Mountain LIne bus depot in Morgantown (http://busride.org/NewsEvents/SolarPowerPlant.aspx) has a nice one for their system. It’s a great tool for judging system performance under varying light conditions.

    • Aaron,

      Thanks for the additional information. I knew I could count on you. Power companies have trained us to be stupid about electricity. That is why we need to take every opportunity to use real numbers and tell people exactly what is going on. People will never take control of producing their own power if they don’t know how it works. If no one else will provide that education, it is up to us to do it.

      I also received an email from Taylor Kuykendall over at Grounded. He has updated his story with the system’s capacity.

  2. Question: How many solar cells could be placed upon 2 roof faces, each 18 feet by 42 feet, and what output might it produce? Unfortunately, one face of the roof is east facing, and the other west facing. Danny Lutz

    • Danny,

      I am replying to your questions on the blog, in case others have similar questions. First, I think you mean solar panels, not solar cells. Solar panels are made up of solar cells. My panels have 60 cells. I have SolarWorld Sunmodule panels which are about 66″ X 40″. Each panel is rated at a maximum out put of 220 watts. That is what is called its rated capacity. I’ll leave you to do the calculations as to what will fit on your roof. Keep in mind that some fire codes require you to set panels back as much as 3′ from the edges of your roof.

      It does not sound like your roof is optimal for panel siting. For maximum production, the panels should face due south and be angled vertically at an angle equal to your location’s latitude.

      Keep in mind that you do not have to put your panels on your roof. I have a garage roof that faces east/west like yours, so I put my panels on the end of the garage like an awning, attached to the wall. My garage is pretty wide, so I was able to get 6 panels in this set up.

      Roof mounts are OK, but they are not very accessible and have to be removed if you replace your roof. If you have space, you might want to consider a ground mount. You have a lot more flexibility in siting and the panels are very accessible. I don’t know where you live, but keep in mind that some developments might not allow ground mounts.

    • One more point on output. Keep in mind that the capacity rating on panels is maximum output at full sun. My 6 panels total a maximum capacity of 1.38 kilowatts. So in full sun, at a time of day when the sun’s rays are directly perpendicular to my panels, my system will produce 1.38 kwh in one hour. But those conditions, even in an optimally sited south facing array, will only last for about an hour on the best of days. Early in the morning or late in the evening, the sun’s rays will not be as effective, because they will be striking at a sub-optimal angle. On a bright, sunny day in March or October (solar panels are more efficient when they are a little cool) my 1.38 kW system will produce 7.5 kwh. That is a little more than our average daily usage.

      On cloudy days, we can still produce 1 or 2 kwh. We produced about 1400 kwh in our first year. That works out to an average of 3.8 kwh per day over a year for our 1.38 kW system.

      I hope this explanation give you an idea of both output and how you have to calculate it.

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