Duke’s solar panels are worth it in the long run, but are our parking problems over?

By: Jason Saab

 

The reopening of the parking garage’s seventh floor at USFSP has brought a sigh of relief from many students regarding the parking situation. The solar panels that were donated by Duke Energy are nearly complete, and the seventh floor is available again.

Duke Energy Florida awarded USFSP a one million dollar SunSense grant towards the construction of the solar panels on top of the parking garage. This is for research into the integration of storing solar energy in newly developed batteries that will be installed with the panels.

The State President of Duke Energy Florida, Alex Glenn, said that “this effort is a true collaboration with USF St. Petersburg and the USF College of Engineering”. The panels will also help manage energy costs and promote sustainability, according to USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska.

The solar panels will measure about 7,100 square feet, with 328 individual panels that will provide an average of 164,250 kilowatt-hours (kWh) of energy per year of the 19.1 million kWh USFSP uses, as well as providing some shade on the seventh floor.

However the biggest effect this project will have is reinforcing the idea of the need for sustainability. Duke Energy Senior Planning Analyst Joe Pietrzak said that “this new 100 kW solar array represents one of the largest and most efficient solar arrays in St. Petersburg.”

Pietrzak concluded that “The data and technical research we will gain from the battery storage aspect of this project will assist us in to promoting and using the sun to help offset the growing need for some electricity in Florida.”

The battle for the seventh floor may be over, and though we got some shiny new solar panels out of it, the war for reliable parking is never finished.

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