Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Announcement of 96kw Photo-Voltaic Electric System: Operational

This is a press release of IDA Internationl Inc.

Derby, CT (March 23, 2009) - IDA International Inc. announced today that it had completed installation of a 96kw photo-voltaic system at it's facility in Derby, CT.

Company President, Thomas Harbinson, recognized this as an exciting milestone for the company. "I'm pleased to announce that our facility will now be generating over 90% of our electricity needs, purely from the sun. This is an investment in our company's future and it's location in Derby, CT. While this is a decision that has taken significant time to implement, this has given us time integrate many decisions that will yield the optimum of results. We believe following our company's vision with emphasis on a "green" standard will be rewarding to the company from a financial perspective, and earn respect from it's customers, vendors and community as a company that sets environmentally sensitive standards."

The photo-voltaic (PV solar) system is a 525 array of panels mounted on the south facing roof of IDA's manufacturing building, a structure that dates to the late 1800's. Buildings then were often constructed in a "solar oriented" manner to take advantage of the sun lighting the workplace through windows and skylights, making this location ideal to take full advantage of solar electric generation potential. Our location is Lat: 41.324845, Long: -73.098274 Our building compass reading is 223-226 degrees (a "true" or "solar" reading adjusted for magnetic declination is 210-213 degrees). Our building roof pitch is: 25 (degrees). This data yields a Solar Pathfinder Annual Average of 98%

The location has a history of "green" energy use. The building was constructed adjacent to a canal where hydraulic power was taken from the river to run manufacturing machinery. One of the early occupants was a munitions company that built cannons. The building later housed a fabric dye and printing operations that were not clean operations by modern standards. The Hull Dye and Print Works was the last such entity, closing after a fire in the mid 1980's which substantially damaged the facility, leaving contamination from dyes and chemicals that needed remediation. The property was purchased from the City of Derby in the late 1980's and the long task of returning the property to viability began.

The project was partially funded by a grant from the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund’s On-Site Renewable Distributed Generation Program, which provides qualified projects funding that can equal as much as 50% of a project’s cost. Combined with federal investment tax credits and accelerated depreciation, solar projects in CT can realize returns in the range of 15-20%.

IDA International Inc. is a turn-key operation for curtain-wall and other building facades. IDA serves the greater metropolitan area with engineering, fabrication and installation of construction elements that create a structure's building envelope. For more information regarding IDA's solar system, contact thomas.harbinson@ida-intl.com, or visit the company's green manufacturing page at their website, http://www.ida-intl.com/

Monday, March 23, 2009

Solar Operations - Witness Test

UI has observed testing of the PV system's inverter in operation.

Commonly referred to as a "solar system", a photo-voltaic (PV) system has many components. First of course are the panels where photons are converted to electrons. Those electrons move in a direct current (DC) type of manner - much like electricity in your automobile. This current is sent to an inverter which changes the electricity to an alternating current (AC) with correct phase, frequency, voltage and other aspects that will match what is being delivered from the utility so it "marries" properly. Lastly, the meters record what is being consumed and generated for the utility company.

Important to the utility company is correct equipment that "marries" with theirs and will not damage their infrastructure. They confirm this through testing that they witness - thus the term "witness test".

We did our test today, and were given the ok to run our system. Once we have some averages and time to generate reflective data, I'll update the blog with information. Till then, here is a video of our installer's representative explaining our witness test while it was happening.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Solar operations - Metering

UI has installed meters to record both what is generated, and what is consumed.

With solar installations, you both consume an amount of electricity and generate an amount of electricity at the same time. Some solar installations areas are able to get by with one meter. Consumption tries to move the meter forward (as it normally operates), while generating tries to move the meter backwards. If the solar array generates less electricity than what we consume, the meter's pace toward moving forward is reduced. This is what's called "net-metering".

Connecticut is a "net metering" state under Dept of Public Utility Control regulations. At our location, United Illuminating is the delivery agent for electricity. You can buy your electricity from a number of sources (including UI), but the delivery infrastructure (poles, lines, transformers, meters, etc) are owned by UI. It is UI as the delivery agent that carries out all the metering and billing work.

If over a billing period, we generate more than we consume, the "bill" for electricity "use" will be a negative number, and UI's billing system can not properly address that (UI likely has algorithms that monitor usage patterns to detect fraud). Thus, UI requires 2 meters to be installed. (see above photos) Meter A records how much we consume. Meter B records how much we generate. Meter A minus Meter B is what we are billed upon.

Installing the new meters required co-ordination with IDA's workplace, as the power was required to be shutdown to the building. Before UI would install the 2 meters, the City of Derby electrical inspector was required to close-out our permit with an inspection. Before that could happen, some final housekeeping work had to be completed on the DC side of the system on the roof - which was difficult due to weather. Delays, delays.

So, finally after weather improved and final workmanship was completed, we could schedule the City of Derby inspection (which Derby delayed a week due to scheduling conflicts). When the electrical inspection was done, we scheduled to have the meter work done (which UI delayed for a week due to scheduling conflicts). Now with meters in place - we can schedule a witness test of the entire system.