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Rendering of a photovoltaic canopy on UH Mānoa’s main parking structure.

A large photovoltaic canopy on the top deck of the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s main parking structure and several rooftop systems that will generate about 2 megawatts (MW) of electricity is part of new renewable energy project to boost the campus toward its net-zero goal of generating as much electricity as it uses.

The canopy PV system will also provide shade for cars and pedestrians on the lower campus parking structure.

“Not only does this make economic sense, these projects will help the state achieve its overall 100 percent clean energy goals. It’s the right thing to do for future generations,” said David Lassner, UH Mānoa interim chancellor.

Mānoa campus has a base load of approximately 10MW and a peak load of about 20MW, which is the energy consumption equivalent of around 10,000 to 20,000 residential homes. An estimated 60 percent of the campus’ energy is consumed by precision Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) systems to support research activities.

Photovoltaic parking structure rendering.

“The design team was able to maximize the number of solar panels with absolutely no reduction in the total number of parking stalls,” said Blake Araki, UH Mānoa director of operations and facilities. “These PV projects, coupled with deep efficiency retrofits including LED conversions, HVAC system modernizations, and optimizing space utilization will help the university to both reduce its electricity costs and create 21st century facilities for our students.”

The PV systems were procured using a power purchase agreement, which allows the campus to pay for the design and construction of clean energy projects through anticipated energy cost savings. The project is expected to save between $2 million to $8 million over its lifetime, depending on future energy costs.

“These renewable energy projects are the first in a series of PV systems to be constructed at Mānoa campus over the next 10 years on our path toward net-zero energy,” said Miles Topping, UH director of energy management.

UH campuses are mandated to achieve net-zero energy by 2035, and have launched a number of initiatives to advance their net-zero goals.

During the PV canopy construction, about half of the top floor parking will be closed.

The project is targeted to be completed by the end of 2019.

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