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Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize

by Holy Cross Education Foundation
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Provide electricity to 500 students in Belize
Volunteers celebrate after completing roof install
Volunteers celebrate after completing roof install

Dear Supporters,

We continue to be grateful for all you have done to make our solar panel power production systems possible at Holy Cross Anglican School in Belize. Our two systems, combined, are providing about 35-40% of our overall demand, including the office/computer-lab system (system 1 and 3) and the classroom/cafeteria system (system 2). While I have not been to Belize since late June, construction progress on the new housing for school professionals has continued and is nearing readiness for Phase 4 solar panel installation (see pictures). As I noted in my previous report, a new electrical service meter and breaker box have been installed, and most of the interior wiring has been run. At the time of my last visit, I also met w/ our local provider, Solar Energy Solutions Belize (SESB), to get an update on the Public Utilities Commission grid-tied auction as well as to discuss their role in our Phase 4 installation.

An unforeseen challenge arose over the summer in that, apparently, for business reasons, our partners at Baker Renewable had to dispose of equipment they had planned to donate. Hence, that donation is now off the table. This means that we will pursue working directly with SESB to purchase and install our Phase 4 system, which we are estimating will cost $15K plus installation. We believe a 16-panel system consisting of 240W units will meet the needs of the new building; however, we must still factor in the possibility (or not) that BEL will actually follow-through on stated plans to allow net-metering. If they don't, then we will have to be careful in sizing the system such that we are not significantly over-producing power during low-demand periods.

In my next report, I will update all of you with better numbers on the projected cost of the Phase 4 system, as well as a more well defined timeline for installation. Given the challenges discussed above, we really need as many of you as possible to help us meet our funding goal for Phase 4.

Warm regards, John

Volunteers installing sheetrock for inside rooms
Volunteers installing sheetrock for inside rooms
Local Belizeans working on school housing
Local Belizeans working on school housing
New living quarters; site of Phase 4 solar
New living quarters; site of Phase 4 solar

Dear Supporters!

I just returned from a great trip to Belize, where construction on the housing for professional(s) that will assist our school to improve its counseling and social work resources for children and their families is making great progress (see pictures). The roof of this new on-campus structure will house the new Phase 4 solar panel system. Already, a new electrical service meter and breaker box have been installed, and most of the interior wiring has been run. While in Belize, I also met w/ our local provider, Solar Energy Solutions Belize (SESB), to get an update on the Public Utilities Commission grid-tied auction as well as to discuss their role in our Phase 4 installation.

In addition to SESB, our faithful partners at Baker Renewable Energy have graciously  offered to donate substantial hardware to the overall Phase 4 solution. Because construction on the house is making such great progress, I believe we will be ready to develop a final list of materials (1) that will be shipped by Baker; and (2) that will be provided in-country by SESB in the August/September 2019 time frame. I hope to be able to confirm this with my next quarterly report. We expect the roof of the new building to be ready for solar panel installation about this time as well.

Unfortunately, but not unexpectedly, PUC and BEL are moving very slowly on the auction registration process. With elections scheduled for next year, there is concern that this may be no more than political manuveuring, but we are still hopeful and shall continue to inquire on a timely basis.

Again, we extend our utmost thanks to you for your continued support and we look forward to our exciting next steps in our Phase 4 deployment plan.

Warm regards, John

Phase 4 location looking toward the south
Phase 4 location looking toward the south
New electrical service at Phase 4 location
New electrical service at Phase 4 location
volunteers work on Phase 4 site construction
volunteers work on Phase 4 site construction
Volunteer and staff examine existing solar
Volunteer and staff examine existing solar
just some of the 500 children that attend school
just some of the 500 children that attend school
System 1_3 combined savings, March 2019
System 1_3 combined savings, March 2019

Dear Supporters! 

While our combined Phase 1_3 and Phase 2 systems continue to function well --- allowing us a near 50% savings over the last month (see attachments), Phase 4 has gotten off to a great start! The school will be constructing living quarters for visiting volunteers that want to stay long term and have specific skills, such as social work, special education, members of the clergy, etc. The living quarters will be a modest "home" of about 650 sq. feet. See the attachment which shows the floorplan. As part of this project, our friends at Baker Renewable Energy have offered to donate 3-4KW of panels, enough to fill the planned south facing roof. We will still need various peripherals and will need to include shipping and possibly import duties along w/ funds for technicians to do the installation. Hence, Phase 4 will focus on raising the monies needed to cover these costs. 

Secondly, the Public Utilities Commission has elected to "auction" off several Megawatts of existing and planned connected solar for inclusion in a new net-metering program. Our Belizean partners, SESB, have taken the lead for us in submitting our application which has now made it through the first steps. The next step is an official site visit. SESB has offered to be on-site when PUC officials come out to the school, to help explain how our system's connections to the grid comply with the (new) PUC standards. While we are not there yet, we are very hopeful that within the next six months, all of our existing and planned Phase 4 solar will be included in the new program. 

Thank you so very much  for your continued support and we look forward to following up with you as things evolve in Phase 4 and w/ the potential to officially be included in the PUC net-metering program. 

John 

System 2 savings March, 2019
System 2 savings March, 2019

Attachments:
SESB repairmen at work
SESB repairmen at work

Dear Supporters,

I am very happy to report that our Phase 3 system continues to function smoothly and is creating significant savings in day-to-day operations at Holy Cross Anglican School. Over the 3 month period ending 12/24/2018, power consumption through this meter/breaker amounted to 7.36MWh (Megawatt-hours), with the solar array producing 3.17MWh -- meeting 43% of our needs for this part of the school. Over the last month, as temperatures have cooled and A/C demands (used in the computer learning lab and staff office) have decreased, we have needed 1.67MWh and generated 0.866MWh, providing 51% of our power demands. Unfortunately --- it could be better if BEL (Belize Electricity) would just allow some sort of net-metering --- but they are still not offering such a program after many years of stating they would begin one. As long as this remains the case, the Phase 3 system is pretty much maxed out in terms of the benefits we can expect in the near term. 

Further, we have completed some overdue repairs on our Phase 2 system. These repairs became necessary  do to a combination of problems with individual panel micro-inverters and issues with wiring. In many developing world locations, structures are not well protected from invasive species like mice and rats that enjoy gnawing on electrical wiring -- and our school is among those that has such a problem. The work converted the Phase 2 array -- which consists of 20 250Watt TRINA solar panels -- from micro-inverters to two string inverters, and repaired/protected the wiring. Due to temperature in Belize, age of the modules and the fact that it is an “East-West" lay-out, the max we are expecting is around 4.3KW, and we have already seen a day when we achieved 4.1KW (kilowatts -- noting that KW and MW are measures of the rate at which power is generated, whereas KWh and MWh are measures of the total generated. Analogy: think of a rain gauge -- it measures the total that fell (like MWh); and if I know how long it took it to fall, I could calculate the rate, like MW). The existing  e-Gauge is back on-line, displaying the PV production and the energy usage from BEL (see earlier reports for URL).

By comparison with Phase 3, over the last 3 months, power consumption through this meter/breaker amounted to 5.64MWh, with the solar array producing only 1.23MWh, lower than expected due to the problems with the micro-inverters (21% offset). The repairs were completed a little less than a month ago, and during this period we generated about 27% of total demand. Thus, we believe even if BEL net-metering policies do not change, there is room to add additional panels to "this side of the house." I've attached a few pictures from the repair crew. 

Thus, thanks to you, our generous supporters, we are officially on to Phase 4!! In the next few months, we will re-visit all options for Phase 4 -- including the possibility of investing in some battery storage, since it would be prudent to be able to store power (rather than send it back to BEL when we over-generate), and then use it at a later time, like overnight. I will review the results of our Phase 4 planning period in the next report. We want also to extend sincere thanks to Baker Renewable Energy in Raleigh and Solar Energy Solutions Belize in Belmopan for their partnership on the project.  

May you each have a meaningful and peaceful holiday season and New Year ahead. 

Warmly, 

John

Phase 2 (foreground); Phase 1/3 (background)
Phase 2 (foreground); Phase 1/3 (background)
Micro-to-string inverter conversion
Micro-to-string inverter conversion
Egauge monitoring data: last 3 months
Egauge monitoring data: last 3 months

Dear Supporters,

Our Phase 3 solar system has now been online for nearly 4 months, and we have collected "egauge" data during that time. The data show that while school was on summer break, our system was "near perfect" in matching solar production with demand through that particular meter during daytime production hours. Of course, we don't have any battery backup (yet), so we cannot offset any nighttime usage. 

As I noted in my previous report, the "egauge" that is collecting this data is available online at http://egauge31746.egaug.es/57A4C/

On average, over the summer, we generated more than 60% of demand --- but now that school is back in session, that percentage drops to about 40%. Overall, if one looks at the last 3 months of continuous data, we have used 8.17 MWh of energy, and generated 4.05MWh. This vast improvement could not have happened without your support. 

In my last report, I mentioned that we continue to watch several transient issues that may -- or may not -- need further attention. As it turns out, something in the connectivity (cables, micro-inverter system, etc.) has failed on System 2 (the URL is: http://egauge31747.egaug.es/57verA4C/). Because the string inverter with the new "Sunny Boy" DC/AC unit that was installed for Phase 3 solar is not subject to heat/humidity/salt exposure, we are proposing to replace the "connectivity" component on System 2 with what we are using on Phase 3. Our quote is on the order of $5000.00USD.  

We hope to have this work done in the next few months. I've enclosed an image showing the monitoring results of the Phase 3 install, and again, we could not have done it without your support. Thanks to one and all of you!! 

Warmly,

John

 

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Organization Information

Holy Cross Education Foundation

Location: Eden Prairie, MN - USA
Website:
Facebook: Facebook Page
Project Leader:
John McHenry
Eden Prairie, MN United States
$79,821 raised of $90,000 goal
 
750 donations
$10,179 to go
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