The University of Minnesota- Initiative for Renewable Energy and the Environment (IREE) and the State of Minnesota provided funds to establish a small scale renewable energy test bed at the West Central Research Center (WCROC) in Morris.
Two small scale renewable energy systems have been installed to demonstrate solar thermal technologies. The first system is a flat-plate solar thermal system manufactured by Solar Skies in Alexandria, Minnesota. The Solar Skies system provides domestic hot water via a Trend Setter hot water heater. The second system is an evacuated tube solar thermal system which was supplied by Solar Panels Plus in Chesapeake, VA. The Solar Panels Plus system is designed to provide 10 tons of air conditioning via an absorption chiller and 15 tons of space heat for the Renewable Energy Addition.
Both solar thermal systems are being controlled and monitored by an Energy Management System provided by Honeywell Automation based in Eden Prairie, MN. This will allow data collection and storage to evaluate the energy and economic performance of these systems and establish their baseline performance for future optimization.
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At the Regional Fitness Center, 32 flat-plate panels and a natural gas backup provide heating for the recreational swimming pool. This system was able to integrate with the pool's existing water pumps to directly transfer heat between the pool water and the solar heat medium.