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Michigan Energy Office Funds Solar Thermal Assessment Project

A new grant from the Michigan Energy Office (MEO) will enable MAREC to collect and study data to assess solar thermal system costs and efficiency improvements for using solar thermal in Michigan’s climate.

Thanks to an earlier federal SERC grant to the Muskegon-Oceana Community Action Partnership (MOCAP), some 200 new solar thermal system installations for residences are now in operation across Muskegon, Oceana, Oakland, Livingston, and Pontiac Counties. With the MEO funds, Kim Walton, program director at MAREC, will collect the data from the homes that received renewable energy systems under the SERC grant. Data will also be collected from a photovoltaic (PV) panel test bed being constructed at MAREC in February, 2013. The $44,000 grant includes $22,000 from the State of Michigan, with equal matching funds from GVSU.

Data from the residential systems and the solar test bed will be collected for a one-year period for analysis. The residential data will include site information, technology used, mounting factors, and any other site considerations, in addition to costs for materials, labor, fees and permits.

The test bed at MAREC will consist of PV panels with micro inverters configured to provide specific output data for solar panel angles and the interaction of snow cover on the panels’ output. Two identical test beds will be installed, with panels set at specific angles. One set of solar panels will be kept free of snow cover daily and another set will be allowed to accumulate or shed snow naturally. Results from each set will be recorded. The PV test bed will be installed next to MAREC’s new Solar Center.

For more information, contact MAREC Program Director Kim Walton, or 616.331-6907. 


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