The Power of the Sun
Riveredge has installed a 4.2 kilowatt (kW) solar energy (photovoltaic) system above the arbor south of the Visitor Center. This system uses the sun's rays to generate electricity. The photovoltaic (PV) system is connected to the WE Energies power grid, and the electricity it produces will be substituted for some of the electricity we currently purchase from WE Energies.
We partnered with the Midwest Renewable Energy Association to install our PV system as part of a class taught by Chris LaForge, owner of Great Northern Solar in Port Wing, WI, who designed the system.
This location was chosen for the PV installation because there will be no shading by trees or other structures.
Our PV array consists of 3 rows of modules - each 2 units high and 4 units wide, a total of 24 - 175 watt modules. Each row of modules is mounted at a different angle (20o, 25o, 45o) to maximize output while eliminating shading of modules by other modulues and aesthetically blending the array into our existing facility.
Under ideal laboratory conditions, this system could generate up to 6,000 kWh (kilowatt hours) of electricty per year. Each kWh equals the electricity used to keep a 100 watt light bulb on for 10 hours. In the Visitor Center, we currently use aobut 108,000 kWh of electricity each year. Riveredge Nature Center is a living laboratory, and while plant leaves can reach out and grow toward the sun, our PV panels are set at fixed angles and will only occasionally have ideal conditions. We look forward to seeing how much electricity our system can produce in the future.