MIT's biggest array of solar panels is expected to go into service this month, producing an estimated 50,000 kWhs annually in clean energy. That's equivalent to removing 65,000 pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, according to the Department of Facilities, which oversaw the project.
The installation on the roof of Building 57 (the Alumni Pool) is twice as large as all of MIT's other solar-panel installations--on buildings 14, W20 and N51--combined, said MIT Director of Utilities Randall Preston.
All of the energy produced by the array will feed into MIT's central electrical grid and will displace energy the Institute otherwise would have had to purchase. About a quarter of what is produced is meant to offset energy consumed by the new, efficient lighting system launched earlier this year atop the Great Dome, Preston said.
The installation cost approximately $365,000, around 40 percent of which came from a competitive grant awarded by the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, a state agency that invests in renewable energy projects in the state. An MIT alum who wishes to remain anonymous also made a significant donation to the project.
Several other alumni played key roles: James (S.B. 1989) and Anita (S.B. 1990) Worden of Solectria Renewables significantly discounted the cost of the three 13kW inverters used in the project, while Richard Chleboski (S.B. 1987) of Evergreen Solar supplied the 216 Evergreen 180W solar panels used in constructing the array at a greatly reduced cost.
Finally, a small amount of funding came from the Utilities Budget within the Department of Facilities. Photo / Ruth T. Davis