Energy Management

Facilities Management Building
411 Pioneer Drive
Rochester, MI 48309-4482
(location map)

Solar Energy

Solar Energy

In the spring of 2003, OU installed a 10kW photovoltaic (PV) demonstration project on the new student apartment complex at 4000 Meadowbrook Drive. The system uses 550 building integrated PV shingles manufactured by Uni-Solar, Inc. of Auburn Hills, MI.  Our installation contractor was Advanced Distributed Generation out of Maumee, OH.

The project was funded by a grant from the State of Michigan and by Oakland University. 

Click here for the project Final Report in PDF.

Click here for Real Time System Data
Get instantaneous weather data, DC Power, AC Power, and other information.

Click here for Historical System Data
Get daily energy logs and detailed performance logs in Excel format.

Design and Layout
This is a unique design using four separate roof sections, facing east, south, and west.  A south facing roof is best for maximum energy production, but our project required more area than was available on the south face.  Click on the image to the right for a plan view of our roof illustrating the four PV shingled surfaces.

There are no batteries in our system.  It is 100% grid inter-tied.  Any power that is produced will be used up by the Community Building locally, or delivered out to the campus power grid.  See the diagram below:

For a typical residential system, you would likely install 1-3 kW of PV modules.  Today's costs range from $8,000 to $10,000 per kW of fully installed capacity.  Although this is a sizable investment, you will then have a roof that will pay for itself.  Payback times should be less than half of a conventional mortgage.  Therefore, financing a PV system does make economic sense over the long term, or to avoid costly power line installations to a remote home site.  This argument does not account for the avoided pollution and global warming impacts that accompany any renewable energy installation.

Photovoltaic Science

The PV effect has been around for a very long time.  In fact, Albert Einstein is credited for some discoveries in the field of PV.  A PV cell consists of a crystalline or amorphous semiconductor material which produces a direct electrical current when exposed to light.

11mb PV Theory Movie 
 (get Apple Quicktime)

Solar Resource in the United States
Obviously, the amount of energy produced by a PV system depends upon the available solar resource.  A map of the available resource may be viewed below.  This map shows that the great lakes and the pacific northwest regions to have relatively low solar resource, requiring more PV modules to get the job done.

However, when you look at a commercial installation, where the TIME of energy production is at least, if not more, important as the AMOUNT of energy production, the picture changes somewhat.  When the solar PV output closely matches the utility grid load, the PV electricity then becomes much more valuable.  A study of the "effective load carrying capacity", or ELCC, of PV can be viewed here.

Conventional Solar Resource Map

Solar Resource Map of ELCC

Questions, Ideas, Comments?
Please contact the Energy Manager - Jim Leidel at
phone 248.370.4990 fax 248.370.4442 

Video of Solar Thermal Generating Station.

Educational & Research Project Member:
Laila Guessous, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Engineering
Dept. of Mechanical Engineering
154 Dodge Hall
Oakland University
Rochester, MI 48309-4478
Phone: 248-370-2183
Fax: 248-370-4416