UW Solar is working on an e-bike charging project to help encourage the use of electrified transportation
and demonstrate the feasibility and environmental benefits of off-grid charging stations. The goal of the
e-bike charging project is to formulate the design and oversee the installation of solar-powered electric
bicycle charging stations that use second life electric vehicle batteries for energy storage. This project
began after receiving the Clean Energy Prize at the Alaska Airlines Environmental Innovation Challenge in
spring 2021 under the company name PotentiaLi Energy. Since then, the project has received funding from the
Campus Sustainability Fund and has been taken on by UW Solar. With the help of UW Solar’s partnership with
UW Transportation, the project team aims to complete a pilot installation of a bike charging station by
spring 2022, followed by 2 more installations to create a bike charging network at UW.
Our proposed system is essentially a glorified “high tunnel” greenhouse, meaning it is composed of opaque walls
that can be manipulated to allow for ventilation, access, and versatility in the use of the space, i.e. growing
food and providing UW students learning opportunities at the UW Farm in inclement weather. It is considered
off-the-grid as it generates power, collects water, and grows food simultaneously by way of reactive solar
installations, a roof stormwater catchment system, and conditions more stable than the natural environment. The
subsequent agriculture has greater nutritional value as well as overall yields, which would more effectively
feed members of the greater UW community, including those who utilize the UW Food Pantry. We will be generating
a conceptual design and applying to grants for funding to bring the design to final as well as construction.
Learn more on our website or reach out over email
Manastash Ridge Observatory
UW Solar is working with the Astronomy Department at the University of Washington
to make the Manastash Ridge Observatory more energy efficient and resilient. Currently,
we are working on installing an array of 36 solar panels and integrating this into
the electrical systems of the Observatory to provide emergency power to close the dome
of the telescope and essential services inside the building.
UW Solar is developing a 30 year Solar Energy Plan for the UW Seattle campus which
aims to maximize solar PV capacity on all viable buildings, reduce peak energy use,
and provide grid resiliency while supporting opportunities for student research.
UW Solar has assessed all buildings on campus for feasibility and will coordinate
with appropriate departments, facilities, and capital planning and development to
determine the criteria for selecting future solar PV projects. UW Solar is collaborating
with the UW Sustainability Office and UW Transportation Services to integrate solar PV
plus battery storage and EV charging stations into the first Comprehensive Campus
Sustainability Plan. The Solar Energy Plan, as part of the Campus Sustainability Plan,
will help the UW achieve its 2050 carbon neutrality goals of its Climate Action Plan by
generating clean renewable energy and reducing our carbon footprint.
UW Solar has been working with UW Transportation on a plan to electrify the
University of Washington vehicle fleet. This project consists of four major components:
A recommended timeline for the type and quantity of battery electric vehicles
to be purchased by the University based on and understanding of the current EV
market, maturity of the technology, and projections of vehicle availability over
the next 15 years.
An EV charging deployment plan both to support the electrification of University vehicles,
but also the electrification of vehicles owned by faculty, staff, students, community,
and visitors parking in and around the Seattle campus.
Two pilot projects to gather information about actual electric vehicle use, operations
and maintenance, as well as existing charging options.
An evaluation of all parking lots and parking garages on the Seattle Campus for their potential
to support solar carports. Three feasibility studies will be completed for the most promising
locations, and will include evaluations for the co-location of EV charging and energy storage.
UW Mercer A
The Mercer A Installation was a student led initiative to bring more solar panels to the
Campus. The project placed a solar array atop Mercer A was completed in Spring of 2014.
The entire array has a power rating of 35 kW and helps provide power to the students
living in the apartment complex. Upon completion of the project, the students working on
it wanted to do similar projects and thus created UW Solar.
Daniel Kirschen, UW Electrical Engineering Close Professor and CEI Faculty Advisory
Board Member, proposed building smart microinverter testbeds at UW for the CETC smart
grid research in May of 2015. With the funding for smart microinverters from Washington
Clean Energy Fund, Prof. Kirschen approached Jan Whittington, UW Urban Design and Planning
Associate Professor and UW Solar Faculty Advisor, to discuss the possibility of building a
PV system on campus to host those smart microinverters. Professor Whittington led students
in UW Solar to develop a 100 KW PV project. Due to the successful collaboration between UW
Solar and UW HFS, HFS generously agreed to use three HFS residence halls, Maple Hall, Alder
Hall, and Elm Hall as the locations of the PV systems. UW Solar seeked further funding
opportunities from the Department of Commerce Grant and Seattle City Light Greenup Grant
to cover the cost of purchasing PV panels and building the system. Later on, Artisan Electric
was selected as the contractor through Request for Proposal (RFP) process. The construction
started in October of 2016 and the project was completed in its entirety in March of 2017.
UW Life Sciences Building Rooftop/BIPV
UW Solar Team collaborated with Perkins+Will architecture team to develop the schematic
plans for a 5 kW building integrated photovoltaic (BIPV) system of vertical shading fins on
the southern facade of the Life Sciences Building on the UW Seattle Campus. The 5 kW BIPV
system provides enough energy to power the light systems in the main floors. In Autumn 2019,
a 100 kW rooftop solar array was completed by Artisan Electric.
In the Autumn of 2016, the Port of Seattle Maritime’s Environment and Planning group
commissioned the UW-Solar group at the University of Washington to examine the potential
of several Port sites for solar energy development. Foremost of these was the Charles E.
Mitson (CEM) site, a former municipal landfill, capped with a geomembrane, a methane collection
system, and asphalt, adjacent to a rail yard and Terminal 5. The historical and adjacent uses
of this brownfield site reduce its chances for many land uses, but at approximately 16 acres
in size, unobstructed by shade, the site is ideal for solar development.