The solar array atop the office complex at Holy Cross Anglican School (24 280W panels; 5MWatt overall) had been up and running continuously through about March 4, 2012. At this time, a problem developed -- potentially related to a storm that blew through -- causing a loss of power. Our contractor, Baker Renewable Energy, proposed several possible causes, and a bad fuse was found to be the culprit. On April 1, I arrived on site with a replacement, which was installed and tested. This fixed the problem. I also carried with me a number of spares should the problem arise again. The system has been back online without interruption since that time.
Surveys of power bills from Belize Energy and Light, plus discussions with local staff, revealed that on average the array seems to be making a 20- 30% difference (reduction) in monthly billing costs against the meter that measures usage from the Computer Learning lab and composting toilet facility. Unfortunately, there also appears to be some -- perhaps significant -- solar-power generated that goes unused and gets fed back onto the grid.This may occur when the computer lab is not being used (computers are shut down, A/C is set a bit higher) and/or when the composting toilet facility is at minimal load. A second meter, which is on a different circuit (office itself, on-site maintenance man's apartment, school kitchen, dining room facility, many classrooms) is not tied into the solar panel, and so its bill is not affected. Power loss could be mitigated if the solar array were also connected to this second metered circuit.
We also surveyed the office complex roof where the current array is located, and determined that there is room for another 12 panels on this particular stretch of roof.
Thus, we believe we are ready for a Phase 2 project which will (1) increase the capacity of the present system; and (2) tie the system into both meters in such a way that it minimizes power loss; (3) continue to encourage Belize Electricity Limited to buy back power that we are generating and not using (currently they have no program in place to do that).
I've posted some pictures of the recent survey of roof space available to expand our current array with the hope of having a solid plan for a Phase 2 project in place sometime over the summer. Thanks again to all for supporting this wonderful project!!
In our last report, we noted that BRE completed the solar panel installation and checkout. After checkout, the system was powered down pending installation of a "smart meter" by the Belize Power company.
I am pleased to report that BEL completed smart-meter installation on Oct 28, and the system was powered on for routine electricity generation! The system has now been operational for two months, and we are in the process of analyzing our power bills to determine how much offset (against the total school power requirements) will be provided. In the next report, I will post our four month analysis, which should be enough data to close out this "Phase 1" project and begin a "Phase 2" project.
The images included with this report document the project success over the last two months.
Because the system has independent micro-inverters, additional build-out can austensibly be done one panel at a time.Phase 2 will ramp up towards a maximum-potential offset as determined by a daylight-only (without any storage capacity at present) PVC system.
Once again, we are extremely excited to reach this point in our Phase 1 project, and are deeply thankful to our many supporters for making this possible on behalf of the children at Holy Cross Anglican School.
With this report, our project is nearing completion!
As noted in our last report, BRE sent two technicians to Holy Cross in early May to complete the roof repair and preparation work identified in the site engineering report. After completing that work, volunteers applied the white-reflective roof coating underlying the location for the 24 solar panels (on top of the office complex). The remainder of the roof coating was applied to other areas of the school deemed most important. Staff reports suggest a significant cooling effect just from this reflective coating alone.
Between Sept 7-12, BRE sent additional installation technicians to HCAS. These technicians first completed an inventory of equipment delivered in late April, noting that all panels and ancillary components were accounted for and in good working order. Over the next several days, the technicians completed the installation of the solar panels, micro-inverters, and wiring necessary to get the 24 Canadian 210W PVC panels (yielding approximately 500kWHours power per month) connected and running.The attached photos document results of the installation.
BRE then powered up the solar farm for checkout and quality control. Power-on was completed and quality checks indicated all panels were generating electricity at expected levels. Because the system features online monitoring capability, we can assess power production on a per panel per hour basis. Additional pictures document this feature, including panel layout, energy generated, and carbon offset.
After checkout, the system was powered down pending installation of a "smart meter" by the Belize Power company. This is needed so HCAS does not get overcharged for electricity they no longer need.
Once the Belize power company installs the "smart meter," we will immediately turn the system on and begin realizing our dream of eventual energy independence at HCAS. At that time I will post a project completion report with the hope to embark on a "second phase" of the system going forward. Because the system has independent micro-inverters, additional build-out can austensibly be done one panel at a time. This may be very attractive for growing the farm in the future.
.Again, we are extremely excited to reach this point in our Phase 1 project, and are deeply thankful to our many supporters for making this possible on behalf of the children at Holy Cross Anglican School.
As noted in our last report, our contractor, Baker Renewable Energy (BRE), completed its engineering study which indicated that the office roof complex be used, while including modest cost for the roof repair needed to support rack-based PVC system. The proposed system included 24 Canadian 210W PVC panels and micro-inverters with 25yr/10yr (respective) warranties, yielding approximately 500kWHours power per month (conservative). Baker contacted Belize Energy and Light about meter hookup, and those negotiations are proceeding.
The Holy Cross Educational Foundation reviewed and accepted Baker's proposal after modest additional cost savings were obtained by Baker -- an effort much appreciated by the Foundation. The proposal was accepted in mid-January, and Baker promptly got to work pulling together all relevant supplies from the various vendors. A large shipping pallete including all the solar panels and ancillary equipment was packaged and shipped to Amarillo Texas, where it was received by an ecumenical Christian shipping ministry, "The Word at Work (TWAT). TWAT included the pallet among an entire container truck of donated materials and arranged for shipping to Belize. The cargo ship carrying the container left port in Houston in late February, arriving in Belize toward the end of March.
Once the container truck was offloaded, our pallet was embargoed in Belizean customs until a waiver-of-duty letter was graciously provided by the local (Anglican) Bishop of Belize. The pallet was formally released without a fee to the local Belize City TWAT employee on Tuesday, April 19, at his warehouse. Board member John McHenry procured the needed forklift with the help of a local Belizean contact, which allowed the pallet to be re-trucked intact to the Carribbean Depot barge company in Belize City, where it was loaded onto a barge for the short journey out to Ambergris Caye. It reached port south of San Pedro on Wednesday evening April 20, and was trucked to the school on Thursday morning April 21.
There, an inventory was conducted showing that nothing on the bill of lading was missing or broken, save one set of tracking rails, which were later located at Carribean depot -- as they had been shipped separate from the pallet itself.
This put the project about 2 months behind the originally published schedule, which was targeting April for Site work and installation and May 1, 2012 for power on and the conclusion of Phase 1.
During early May, BRE sent two technicians to Holy Cross to complete the roof repair and preparation work that was identified in the site engineering report. This work is now done. BRE is looking at mid-to-late June to make a final install and power-on trip -- with the hope of formal project conclusion by July 1, 2011. BRE has been extremely responsible to work with including significant in-kind donations for engineering, site visits, and repair/installation activities that have resulted in our ability to stay within our initial budget estimates.
We are extremely excited to reach this point in our Phase 1 project, and are deeply thankful to our many supporters for making this possible on behalf of the children at Holy Cross Anglican School.
Following upon the schedule noted in the first project report, Foundation Board Member John McHenry made a site discovery visit along with two renewable energy engineers from Baker Roofing. This visit was conducted Dec 12-13 at HCAS in San Mateo, Belize. The visit included discussions with Vernon Wilson, Board Member Cullen Walker, Francis Wilson, on-site facilities manager "Mr. Freddy" and other stakeholders. Engineers from Baker included roofing specialist Will DeGrace and project manager/renewables Jason Epstein.
The team conducted both on-roof and on-ground assessment. On-roof, it was determined that a proximate tall structure (the movie theatre) stood in direct line blocking the prevailing easterly winds to a height well above manufacturer's specs for the proposed wind turbine. The possibility of additional high-rise construction to the east was also concerning. This could reduce wind-power yield substantially, perhaps > 50% in the long-run.
Thus discussion turned toward solar photo-voltaic options. The main roof atop the school office complex which was examined. It is the largest area w/ attractive north-south facing roof. However, problems with a seam running down the center of the office complex roof would need repair. Consideration was also given to available roof above the composting bathroom facility, and to on-ground (platform-style) siting or even siting "in the swamp."
Upon return, Baker completed the formal engineering study, recommending that the office roof complex be used, while including modest cost for the roof repair needed to support rack-based PVC system. The proposed system would include 24 Canadian 210W PVC panels and micro-inverters with 25yr/10yr (respective) warranties, yielding approximately 500kWHours power per month (conservative). Baker is in contact w/ Belize Energy and Light about meter hookup, but it appears unlikely that "net metering" will be an option at this early stage. The Foundation is now reviewing Baker's cost proposal with a view toward signing off within a week or two. Assuming this is acceptable, the schedule posted under the first project report is hopefully still attainable (repeated here):
Jan-Feb 2011: Order/obtain materials, finalize shipping date. Obtain local permits and sign-offs.
March 2012: Schedule and conduct shipping, site-work begins.
April 2012: Site work and installation.
May 1, 2012. Power on. Phase 1 concludes.
We are still hopeful -- and working toward -- a creative way to use any excess generated to directly benefit the economy of the impoverished San Mateo community, discussed in the first project report. How to do this may not become completely clear until we understand exactly what the power yield will be and during which times of the week we may be generating extra.
I have included several photos from the HCAS/Baker site discovery visit conducted in early December, 2010.
Project Reports on GlobalGiving are posted directly to globalgiving.org by Project Leaders as they are completed, generally every 3-4 months. To protect the integrity of these documents, GlobalGiving does not alter them; therefore you may find some language or formatting issues.
If you donate to this project or have donated to this project, you will get an e-mail when this project posts a report. You can also subscribe for reports via e-mail without donating or by subscribing to this project's RSS feed.