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Publication Date


Document Type

Honors Project




Smith College is currently moving in a more sustainable direction and is making many changes in the process. One important way that they can become more environmentally conscious is through the production of renewable energy. However, in order to do so they must understand the electrical load placed on the different buildings on campus to make informed decisions along with the optimal manner in which to design the systems in order to minimize cost. This will make the process of becoming more sustainable more cost effective for the campus. The basis of this report is to determine a methodology to allow for the optimization of grid-tied solar photovoltaic systems to reduce capital cost. In order for this to occur a process of site assessment must be determined and is demonstrated using Ziskind, a typical Smith College dorm. The site assessment incorporated determining the physical dimensions of the building along with estimating the electric load placed on the building by the students. The electrical load was determined to be 54,236 kWh annually. Once this information is known the optimal voltage can be determined to minimize the number of solar panels needed to sustain the load. The optimal voltage for a grid-tied system at Ziskind is 368VDC with 153 solar PV modules. When shading is taken into account the optimal voltage is 328 VDC and 176 modules at a tilt of 30 degrees.




60 p. : ill. (some col.) Honors project-Smith College, Northampton, Mass., 2009. Includes bibliographical references (p. 49-50)