USF St. Petersburg, Duke Energy Unveil Solar Battery Project

Duke Energy Florida President Alex Glenn presents USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska with a check for $1 million during the ceremony on May 20.

Duke Energy Florida President Alex Glenn presents USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska with a check for $1 million during the ceremony on May 20.

Duke Energy Florida and the University of South Florida-St. Petersburg unveiled a new solar battery project that will explore how to store and use energy from the sun. A $1 million grant from Duke Energy is funding the research at USFSP.

As part of the grant, a 100-kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) system has already been installed on the top of the university’s Fifth Avenue South parking garage.

“This partnership gives Duke Energy and the University of South Florida additional firsthand experience in solar battery storage systems,” said Alex Glenn, state president, Duke Energy Florida. “The innovative and cutting-edge research also provides students a real-world learning environment as we develop alternative energy solutions for our customers.”

Solar energy that is not used by the garage for lights, elevators and electric-vehicle charging stations is stored in battery systems or put onto the electric grid for immediate use. High-resolution data is being collected on the PV installation and on the energy storage system which is displayed on an online dashboard and several kiosks on campus.

The new larger energy storage system operates in conjunction with two smaller existing USF energy storage systems. This creates an opportunity to build upon existing battery technology while advancing clean energy solutions.

“This is an opportunity to manage energy costs, while promoting sustainability on campus,” said USFSP Regional Chancellor Sophia Wisniewska. “We are pleased and proud to have been awarded this grant, and to provide faculty and students with a chance to help build something of lasting impact. USFSP has long enjoyed a strong partnership with Duke Energy and we look forward to future collaborations.”

The 100-kW solar array at USF St. Petersburg measures approximately 7,100 square feet, with 318 individual panels. It is a freestanding canopy with space beneath for parking. A solar array of this size can produce enough energy to power an electric car for half a million miles.

As part of the grant to USFSP, Duke Energy Florida paid for the installation of two NovaCharge electric-vehicle charging stations provided by Nissan.

USFSP has an existing 2.0-kW solar energy system located at its Central Facilities Plant that was constructed in partnership with Duke Energy and the USF Tampa School of Engineering. Additionally, a series of solar panels provides power for decorative lights on campus.

Read additional coverage of the event by the St. Petersburg Tribune and WUSF News.