The Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellin, Colombia, has a system of electricity generation through photovoltaic panels that help reduce its consumption levels.
By Alejandra García Vélez
According to figures published by EIA (US Energy Information Administration) in 2013 40% of the total energy used in the United States was consumed by commercial and residential buildings, so it is not surprising that the level of electricity consumption in a building is one of the main aspects that many property managers seek to optimize.
In that sense, there are many strategies that can help to achieve the goal of obtaining a better energy performance; from simple improvements in the business culture to the implementation of equipment and technologies designed especially for this purpose.
One of these options is the installation of systems that take advantage of sunlight to complement the energy consumption of any type of building. To learn about an installation of this type, Gestión de Edificios spoke with the company Hybrytec that specializes in the installation of photovoltaic and thermal solar energy systems.
Basically, this company offers solar energy solutions with systems interconnected to the electricity grid and water heating systems that generate benefits for private companies from different sectors.
Some of the projects they have led include clients such as Usaid, Incolmotos, Bimbo and Chevron, but in this case we will focus on the installation carried out at the Pontifical Bolivarian University of Medellín.
Step by step
A complete project of modernization and expansion of its facilities led the university to build new blocks of classrooms and offices, in addition to undertaking a macro project to expand the offer of parking lots on its campus.
With an investment of 20,000 million pesos and a total of 26,483 m2 built between the end of 2012 and 2013, the university expanded the parking capacity for its employees and students. But with a new structure also comes new support costs.
Due to the above, the educational institution proposed to look for alternatives for the energy management of the new spaces, for this they contacted the company Hybrytec, an expert in photovoltaic solar systems, which carried out two interventions for the university.
Both installations are battery-free systems where the energy consumed comes simultaneously from the solar system and the electricity grid, which is ideal for buildings with high energy consumption.
In this case, photovoltaic panels convert the energy from the sun into electrical energy of the direct current type. The inverters transform the direct current (12, 24 or 48 VDC) into alternating current (single or three-phase), to be injected into the grid.
The first installation carried out at the university was delivered in October 2013 and consisted of a system interconnected to the electricity grid for the creation of a Microgrid within the Pontifical Bolivarian University, Laureles campus.
Solar panels and micro-inverters of electrical interconnection were implemented, installed in a self-supported structure on the terrace of the John Paul II auditorium of block 10. With the above, part of the demand for two floors of a block of classrooms and offices was covered and on average between 350 and 450 people benefit.
This microgrid will allow the measurement, evaluation and monitoring, both physical and virtual, of system variables for subsequent analysis. Additionally, it has micro-inverter technology that allows integration with other systems that are implemented within the same microgrid.
The second installation was carried out in the new parking lot building during May 2014. There it was possible to reach an installed solar power of 25.48 Kwp with two inverters of 11.4 KW and a total of 104 panels of 245 Wp each.
The energy generated by this installation is consumed directly by the lighting loads of the parking lot of the Pontifical Bolivarian University, thus minimizing consumption from the traditional electricity grid.
According to Hybrytec spokespersons, the annual generation projected for this last project is 34 MWh /year, which will stop the university from emitting around nine tons of CO2 per year.
In addition to the benefits obtained by the university at the level of cost reduction for electricity bills, another of the objectives of the educational institution when betting on this model was to initiate a research and appropriation of this type of technologies that allows them to extend their use within the campus.
In addition, the commitment to sustainability brings intangible benefits such as recognition before the community and a positive brand partnership, explain Hybrytec spokespersons.