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A review of the benefits of a residential solar power installation in western North Carolina

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2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Installation, Integration, and Development

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

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Sung Joon Suk Western Carolina University Orcid 16x16

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Steven Anthony Sciara Western Carolina University


George D Ford Western Carolina University

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Dr. George Ford P.E. is an associate professor in the Construction Management Department at Western Carolina University.

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The mountainous region of western North Carolina (NC) in the United States of America (USA) is not well-known as a region suited to solar power due to potential shading of systems located in areas affected by north facing mountains and the corresponding power losses due to shading, but the availability of federal and state tax rebate programs have assisted residential owners with purchasing and installing grid connected, solar photovoltaic (PV) systems in areas not perfectly suited to these types of systems. These systems provide owners with income based upon the amount of power generated and delivered to the grid. While larger, megawatt sized PV systems may be justified financially for business owners with relatively larger tax burdens by the income realized from the generated, grid delivered power, smaller residential systems must be carefully designed and physically located to ensure a net positive financial scenario. The unexpected reluctance of the local electrical power generating and transporting companies to deal with a mass of small, low quantity power generating systems is another consideration for potential PV owners. Coordination and identification of the specific benefits of the proposed system need to be clear before the first panel is purchased.

This paper examines the costs and benefits of a five kilowatt PV installation in Cullowhee, NC, USA which has been in operation for several years. The system is located on a north facing slope with substantial shading, but has provided the owners with financial benefits which justify the system costs. A review of the historic power output of the system, a short discussion of power company requirements for residential systems, and details of the rebate programs available are provided to assist potential future PV system owners with detailed information to consider prior to purchasing and installing a system of their own.

Suk, S. J., & Sciara, S. A., & Ford, G. D. (2017, June), A review of the benefits of a residential solar power installation in western North Carolina Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--27507

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