Solar energy was the first renewable technology MWCC utilized on its Gardner. Originally, a 5 kWe photovoltaic array was installed to increase our energy security and reduce our dependance on electricity from the grid.Then, in the mid-2000s, the college began upgrading its solar capabilities with the installation of an additional 100 kWe of photovoltaic panels on the main building. Our partners include the Massachusetts Technology Collaborative, Mass Development Finance Agency, and the Massachusetts Executive Office of Environmental Affairs; Sustainability Office on this $870,000 project.Previous to submittal of our proposal, a feasibility analysis and report was performed by a photovoltaic specialist. According to this analysis this location has all the attributes necessary to support the design and installation of a large photovoltaic system without additional roof, building or electrical room modifications.
In preparation of the new 100kw photovoltaic array, the college installed a new white thermoplastic roof membrane developed by Duro-Last Roofing Inc. Also included in this project was additional insulation. The white roof increases the efficiency of the new solar panels by reducing heat. The flat roof has large unobstructed open areas that can be utilized to arrange significant surface areas of PV modules.
MWCC installed the array on the roof of the Gardner campus in 2009. They generate 100 kilowatt hours of electricity. The college received federal and state funding to support the installation of solar energy cells, including federally-sponsored Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREB) issued by MassDeveloment on behalf of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts.
This project produces approximately 100,000 kWh annually. The photovoltaic installment utilizes low angle support racks of a non-roof penetrating design.
A second solar project in 2009, part of a series of Energy Conservations Measures (ECMs) at the main campus in Gardner, added a system that provides heating for domestic hot water in the main building.
The solar hot water heating system installation was the result of a study done as part of a retro-commissioning project initiated by the college and its utility, National Grid. The system, installed by Johnson Controls, eliminated the need for electricity to heat domestic hot water. This system is comprised of 12 solar collectors installed on the roof. Copper piping and a circulating pump route water from the existing 1,800-gallong domestic hot water tank to the solar collectors where it is heated, then returned to the hot water tank in the mechanical room.
Click for more on the solar hot water heating system.