Sinclair Library holds ceremony for new photovoltaic power system

University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Posted: Sep 1, 2011

L-R: Scott Paul, Gregg Geary, Virginia Hinshaw and Governor Abercrombie in front of the PV system.
L-R: Scott Paul, Gregg Geary, Virginia Hinshaw and Governor Abercrombie in front of the PV system.
Governor Neil Abercrombie, UH Mānoa Chancellor Virginia S. Hinshaw and Hoku Corporation CEO Scott Paul symbolically “flipped on” the power switch of a new 31.5kW-DC photovoltaic (PV) system that will provide clean energy power to the Gregg M. Sinclair Library.   Installed and to be maintained by Hoku Solar, a wholly owned subsidiary of Hoku Corporation (NASDAQ: HOKU), the new PV panel array is expected to save the University approximately $500,000 over the 25-year life of the system.
Said Chancellor Hinshaw at this afternoon’s commissioning ceremony, “When Sinclair Library was built 55 years ago, it won awards for its innovative design that utilized tradewinds as its natural air-conditioning system—so this was recognized as one of the first ‘sustainable’ buildings long before the word became so popular. Today’s exciting commissioning is an example of how we’re striving to be a leader in energy efficiency, and how we’ve been able to reduce energy consumption by more than 20 percent in the past five years.”
The $271,000 PV project is an important early step in the University’s long-term goal to deploy renewable energy at the flagship campus within the UH system. Funding was derived from UH Mānoa’s past and current energy-savings efforts, which were praised by Governor Abercrombie in his remarks. UH Mānoa’s planned, large-scale $35 million PV project would build nearly 5 megawatts in PV generation, which will provide 7-10 percent of the campus’ energy needs.
Governor Abercrombie commended UH Mānoa on its strategic vision for sustainability and conservation, while helping to supply Hawai‘i’s clean energy needs with committed partners such as Hoku Solar. “As a homegrown Hawai‘i company, Hoku is sharply focused on bringing clean-energy technology to Hawai‘i and further the State’s goals for energy efficiency,” said CEO Paul of Hoku Corporation. “We’re especially pleased to promote sustainability at UH Mānoa, a place where Hoku got its start by testing our first fuel-cell prototypes and now supports with the Hoku Microloan program that fosters entrepreneurship through the UH Foundation.”
Paul said a PV system of Sinclair’s size will generate enough energy during its 25-year operating life to power nearly 135 homes for one year. This is equivalent to removing more than 50 cars from the roadways and the corresponding 90,000 gallons of gas used to power them.  Unique system-design characteristics include a custom-fabricated, stainless steel racking system that allows the panels to remain level across the uneven rooftop surface and provide stability and durability. 
The 140 solar modules at Sinclair are raised at least 24 inches from the rooftop to prevent shading and reduce heat load to the library rooftop, effectively reducing energy consumption by air conditioned areas in the library. A monitoring system will provide accurate data and output levels as well as provide email alerts if a system error occurs.