UCF Engineering Students Design, Launch Floating Solar Farm At University of Central Florida
By Kimberly J. Lewis, UCF // April 11, 2016
BREVARD COUNTY, FLORIDA – 10-panel solar farm, which will generate enough power to meet the needs of an average single-family home, now floats on a University of Central Florida retention pond, thanks to the ingenuity and determination of five graduating mechanical engineering students.
They spent their senior year designing the experimental floating system under the supervision of David Norvell, assistant vice president of sustainability initiatives at UCF.
The team’s “Floatovoltaics” system also serves as their senior design project, a capstone requirement for graduation in May.
The power generated from the 5-kilowatt prototype will feed into the campus power grid and gives UCF the opportunity to test the technology. If the farm performs as expected, the university could scale it up to a 900-kilowatt system that would generate enough power to fully offset the energy used by Bright House Networks Stadium.
“A floating system on a retention pond is the best solution, because installing a roof-based system large enough to generate that much power on existing buildings requires expensive retrofitting.”
The student team assembled and launched the floating array late March on a pond near the stadium.
“This solar array will leave our mark on the UCF campus and ultimately a small mark on the world’s changing climate,” said engineering student Rubin York, who already has a job lined up with Harris Corp. as a design engineer for satellite mesh reflectors after he graduates in May.
“We hope our project will encourage future students to think globally and to strive to make a difference.”