New solar panels on Wilson Hall reducing carbon emissions on campus

July 15 / 162

Solar panels on the roof of the University's Wilson Hall
Solar panels on the roof of the University's Wilson Hall


Recently installed solar panels, making use of the latest technology to protect the building’s heritage status, will ensure that Wilson Hall is energy positive, progressing our transition to a clean energy campus.


Frameless, glass-on-glass TRINA solar panels were selected for Wilson Hall, in an array designed by Sun Edison, complying with the University’s strict heritage guidelines that required the panels rise no more than 150mm above the roofline.  


The array minimises the negative impacts of panels being laid flat, where rainwater can pool, dry out and leave dust behind, reducing the capacity of the panels. 


In addition, the introduction of new inverters, known as Fronius inverters, has enabled a dramatic reduction in the internal energy demands of the system.  


Twelve 4kw banks in each of the two inverters run in diverse sequences according to demand and to prevent early wear.  


“The old technology is equivalent to idling a huge bus for only 8 passengers,” said Harry Troedel of the University’s Sustainability team. “It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. But this new inverter makes sure we’re only expending what we need at any given time.”


So far, the solar conversion of Wilson Hall seems a great success.  


“At the moment Wilson Hall is looking like it will generate more energy than it needs on an annual basis, so the additional clean energy can be used elsewhere on campus,” said Mr Troedel.  


The Wilson Hall solar installation almost doubles the University’s existing solar capacity to 210 kilowatts. This signals the early stages of the move towards renewable energy supply, in addition to continuing energy reduction projects. 


The panels are the latest in a series of energy projects completed on campus since 2008, which are contributing cumulative savings of $2.7m and over 30,000 tonnes of carbon emissions per year. A new $9m suite of energy reduction and generation projects is expected to deliver further savings of $0.9m and over 9,000 tonnes carbon per annum.


Chris White, Executive Director Facilities and Sustainability said that this recent installation at Wilson Hall is a very tangible reflection of the University’s strengthening commitment to sustainability as a central and guiding principle of the newly released Growing Esteem. 


“As an immediate outcome of the new strategy, a Sustainability Charter is being developed to define how the University will address sustainability and climate change across all its activities - through its campus operations, curriculum, research activities, procurement and investment philosophy.


“The University’s Sustainability Plan for 2016-20 will set pathways for the University’s longer term sustainability objectives, including a transition to carbon neutrality by 2030. A key focus will be on further energy reduction and transitioning our energy supply to renewable energy sources.” 

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