New solar array atop Fitzpatrick

Author: Meredith Rowland


Inovateus Solar recently completed the installation of a 10kW flexible thin-film solar array and monitoring system on the roof of Fitzpatrick Hall of Engineering. The light-weight flexible panels lie flat and are attached directly to the surface of the roof with an adhesive. Connected directly to the University’s power grid, the array will help meet Fitzpatrick’s electricity demand, supplying an estimated 12,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually.

The array is comprised of panels from two different manufacturers, Uni Solar and Solopower. Both panels employ a thin-film solar technology that is the first of its kind on campus. Inovateus Solar, a national solar distributor based in South Bend, donated this installation to the University and will use array as an energy production demonstration model of the two solar panel models.

“This project gives us the opportunity to demonstrate how flexible thin-film solar technology is installed and compare the performance of two different types of thin-film panels side-by-side,” explained Peter Rienks, Project Manager for Inovateus Solar.

This solar installation is the third “rooftop renewable” on campus, following last year’s installation of a rigid solar array on the roof of Stinson-Remick Hall and last month’s installation of a vertical-axis wind turbine on the roof of the power plant.

Inovateus Solar first proposed the project to the Office of Sustainability in 2009, and this month’s installation marks the culmination of two years of cooperation between Inovateus Solar, the Office of Sustainability, and the Utilities Department. Innovateus Solar was able to complete this installation at no cost to the University with the help of generous donations and discounts of parts and labor from Uni Solar, Solopower, SMA, Shoals, Midland Engineering, and Koontz Wagner.

“This renewable energy project helps the University move toward its goal of reducing the carbon-intensity of its electricity production and will also serve as an important academic resource on campus,” said Heather Christopherson, Notre Dame’s Director of Sustainability.

The new solar array will offer substantial research opportunities for faculty and students. A real-time monitoring system will allow for easy analysis of the array’s productivity under different conditions. Additionally, the array’s flexible thin-film technology will afford controlled comparisons with the more traditional solar array already installed on Stinson-Remick Hall.