UW Solar Feasibility Study – Just Look At All Those South Facing Rooftops

Large scale Photovoltaic (PV) Solar systems in Washington?  At UW?

Surprisingly, the cooler climate in Seattle increases the performance of solar panels and, even on grey days Washington State, solar panels are effective.  The real barrier to solar in Seattle is actually our super-cheap hydroelectric power.  With the affordability of the panel components and available incentive, solar does make sense in Seattle. It just takes a bit longer for the energy savings to pay for the system compared to other states where energy costs are double or more.

Klondike Museum

Klondike Museum PV Solar INstallation courtesy of Puget Sound Solar

Realizing solar works in Seattle, there is a new urgency to explore how we can to bring wide scale Solar installations to our campus. The UW Solar team is a student run group working with the UW Housing and Food Services team to install a pilot solar project on one of our UW Housing rooftops.

With the support of the  UW Campus Sustainable Fund, the team has started a feasibility study to determine how best to approach installation of a PV solar system at UW. Here is the link.


The team of 10 students represent a variety of schools at UW including the Evans School of Public Policy, UW Information Technology, Runstad Center for Real Estate Studies, Urban Planning and Electrical Engineering.

Part of the feasibility study will be exploring ways to increase state and local incentives to make solar’s return on investment more inviting. The student team hopes to work with other organizations to figure out best practices and figure out how we can get solar power projects approved, funded and installed at UW.

NW Seed is an example of an organizatrion that helps create community solar projects. Here is their website. We hope to use their expertise to find the optimal approach for UW.

If all goes well, you will see solar panels being installed on one of the student housing buildings this spring.  We have the rooftops and the south-facing exposure. Now, with the help of the campus sustainability fund, we have some resources to move ahead.

If you want to get involved or just keep up on progress and news, here is the link to the UW Solar website.


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