COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING USING SOLAR PANELS FOR ACADEMICS
solar array on top of the Central Power Plant is providing more
than just energy to our UH campus. The Cullen College of
Engineering (CCE) is now taking advantage of the university’s
first solar array made possible by the donation from Green
Mountain Energy Company and plans to use it as a teaching tool
for its students. The College collaborated with the facilities
team at the plant to provide a website that gives real-time data
on energy production from the panels on its Electrical and
Computer Engineering website.
Badri Roysam, chair of the Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE)
department, is working with the Plant Operations team to
incorporate the panels into the curriculum. He said the plan is
to have Electrical Computer Engineering students download the
data to their computers and compare the data against
calculations they learn to perform from their professors in
order to show students how well theory describes reality.
The new solar panel website on the ECE website displays actual
data on how much electrical power is currently generated by the
solar array as well as how much total power was generated for
the past week, month, or lifetime of the array. Also included on
the website are conversion estimations to show the solar array’s
A diagram on the website also shows each numbered panel and its
current status. If the panel is light blue, it is producing
energy well. If it is black, it is not functioning and the
operator will know it needs to be checked for repairs.
“The array is based on the latest micro inverter technology, so
in addition to a roughly 20 percent better production than would
be possible with the earlier inverter technology, we get an
accurate indication of the working status of each single panel,”
The solar array consists of 88 large photovoltaic solar panels
covering 2,000 square feet of the Central Power Plant roof.
Savings are expected to be $.075 per kilowatt hour. Plant
Operations electrical and controls team oversee daily activity
and maintenance of the panels.
The University of Houston installed the solar panels thanks to a
donation of $140,000 from Green Mountain Energy Company. These
panels convert sunlight into electricity to reduce the
university’s carbon footprint and cut energy costs.
To view the current status for the solar array, visit the
Electrical and Computer Engineering website at