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Photovoltaic System Feasibility Assessments: Engineering Clinics Transforming Renewable Markets

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2006 Annual Conference & Exposition


Chicago, Illinois

Publication Date

June 18, 2006

Start Date

June 18, 2006

End Date

June 21, 2006



Conference Session

Design Projects in Wind and Solar Energy

Tagged Division

Energy Conversion and Conservation

Page Count


Page Numbers

11.992.1 - 11.992.11



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Paper Authors


Steven Hazel Rowan University

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Steven Hazel is a senior electrical and computer engineering major at Rowan University

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Peter Mark Jansson

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PETER MARK JANSSON is an Associate Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering at Rowan University teaching AC and DC electric circuits, power systems, sustainable design and renewable energy technologies. He leads numerous Sophomore, Junior and Senior Engineering Clinic Teams in solving real world engineering problems each semester. He received his PhD from the University of Cambridge, MSE from Rowan University and BSCE from MIT

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Photovoltaic System Feasibility Assessments: Engineering Clinics Transforming Renewable Markets

I. Abstract

To meet growing market demands for renewable energy in New Jersey, local industry has turned to Rowan University for technical assistance from its engineering students participating in the junior / senior Engineering Clinic.1,2 New Jersey has the nation’s most aggressive incentives for those who choose to install a photovoltaic system on their home or business. These lucrative incentives come in the form of rebates3 and solar renewable energy certificates (SREC’s)4. For this reason New Jersey has quickly become the nation’s leader in solar power. Many residents of this state have already realized the potential their home has for solar energy and have capitalized on its benefits. To date, over 9,188 kW of photovoltaic (PV) systems have been installed with over 7,658 kW (>83%) of that installed in the last 24 months.5 However, not all properties meet the requirements mandated by the state. The power to determine whether or not a home qualifies for the photovoltaic energy rebates lies in the hands of the assessor. At Rowan University a multidisciplinary engineering clinic team is currently working with Mesa Environmental Sciences7 and BP Solar to perform these important site resource assessments. The team provides this turnkey technical service to our industrial affiliate and the students learn the best methods for completing onsite resource assessments as an educational benefit. This paper describes our assessment process which includes determining adequacy of the customer’s electrical panel box, accessing the roof for important measurements and establishing the exposure to the solar window on the south-facing side of the property. While on the roof the pitch, the azimuth and Solar PathfinderTM data are collected so that a PV system design can be sent to our industrial sponsor.

II. Introduction

PV systems can provide customers with all their electrical needs. It is also our goal to educate the potential buyer on ways they can reduce the amount of electricity they consume. Thus it becomes important to perform all of these assessments quickly and efficiently. U.S. households rely primarily on three sources of energy: natural gas, fuel oil and electricity. Each year the demand for electricity in the United States grows. Recently, as primary fuel prices have climbed, electricity prices have inevitably followed. For New Jersey residents, this has meant an average increase of 15% in the cost of electricity since 200312. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, this will increase another 51% by 202512. However, due to the deregulation of electricity production, there are no guarantees that the actual prices will not be much greater than that. This, along with the fact that NJ cannot produce enough energy to meet the State’s demands and imports from adjacent states portends continued escalating electricity bills for New Jersey consumers.

This growth in energy price is naturally dependent on the increased use of non-renewable resources, which eventually will run out. New Jersey policy makers realized this and have placed incentives urging the states home and business owners to take action. These incentives come in the form of rebates and solar renewable energy certificates (SREC’s) 4 (which are a traded commodity). One way to utilize these incentives in particular is through the implementation of photovoltaics (PV). PV is the technology through which sunlight is converted into electricity,

Hazel, S., & Jansson, P. M. (2006, June), Photovoltaic System Feasibility Assessments: Engineering Clinics Transforming Renewable Markets Paper presented at 2006 Annual Conference & Exposition, Chicago, Illinois. 10.18260/1-2--340

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