Solar panels are key to the new super-efficient ECE building achieving zero net energy. We project that this goal can be met with 1.5 megawatts of solar energy: .3 megawatt on the ECE building (ECEB) and 1.2 megawatts on the adjacent North Parking Garage (NPG) roof. The Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) first funded a $150,000 feasibility study for the NPG portion and then contributed $225,000 for solar panels on the ECEB roof to be used especially for student research. These panels, which will be accessible to students taking classes in the power area and to interested individuals from the state of Illinois, will allow instructors to demonstrate solar technology in a hands-on manner. This fits into the overall SSC goals of energy conservation, new energy technologies, and student education to create a generation of leaders that will consider sustainability in their decision making.

The Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO)’s mission, “to provide a foundation for the economic prosperity of all Illinoisans,” was forwarded by a $250,000 grant for the ECEB solar panels through its Large Distributed Solar and Wind program. Professor Krein, Committee Chair for ECEB welcomed the DCEO grant and noted there is plenty of solar resource in Illinois. He is confident that solar energy here can be demonstrated to be cost-effective on a large scale.

The $100,000 supplied by the Grainger CEME likewise advances a fourfold mission of education, research, economic development, and public service with its primary contribution in the field of energy, including energy resources and reliability. The ECE Department and the College of Engineering together contributed $325,000. We expect that the $900,000 total from all the sources above will cover the cost and installation of the solar panels on the ECEB roof. Finally, to attain zero net energy, we are seeking funds for the remaining 1.2 megawatts. The NPG solar panels installation will follow the SSC feasibility study recommendations.