Tiffanee Pahia will be a junior this fall at UH Manoa, pursuing her bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. Her ultimate goal is to earn a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and return to teach at one of Oahu’s community colleges. She is currently a Peer Mentor for Kapiolani Community College’s STEM program and enjoys mentoring fellow students.
Project Title: Design and Optimization of PV Systems for the SMA Summit and Base Facilities
Project Site: Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
Mentor: John Maute
Solar energy has become one of the leading renewable energy sources. The Smithsonian Submillimeter Array (SMA) facilities want to try to eliminate their energy use with the local electric utility company (HELCO). This project was to design and optimize a photovoltaic (PV) system for both the Hilo and Summit SMA facilities. Using public data, we were able to calculate the amount of sun hours, on average, Hilo and the summit obtain per day. Using that, and analyzing utility bills, we were able to estimate the size of a system needed to meet the needs of each facility. Then we compared different types of panels and inverters to find the ones that would best fit our needs. We selected SunPower 345 panels and Enphase M250 micro-inverters, and to meet our full demand, we would require approximately 962 panels in Hilo and 2112 panels at the summit. Due to rooftop area restrictions, the Hilo facility is limited to 916 panels and the summit facility is limited to 185 panels. The costs of both systems were also estimated: $872,000 for Hilo, and $160,000 for the summit. All that is needed now is funding to have the system installed.