The clean energy provided by the solar array will result in 1,810,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide being emitted annually, while reducing the University's energy costs by 30%.

Case Study: Solar Installation at the University of Delaware

| Standard Solar

The University of Delaware (UD) Class of 2009 made its parting gift one intended for the future by earmarking it for solar projects on the Newark campus. Long a pioneer in the field of photovoltaics, UD supports a wide range of research both technical and in energy policy, and this class gift is in keeping with the University’s Path to Prominence Initiative for the Planet and its ongoing efforts to become ‘The Green University.’ The result is an 850 kW solar electricity system at the UD Field House and two other locations on the campus that will cut carbon-dioxide emissions by 906 tons annually, providing a long term visual reminder of the University’s commitment to sustainable energy.


Sytem Specs

System Production

Environmental Benefits

System Description

850 kW

1,035 MWh

Cuts CO2 Emissions

906 tons annually

3,168 solar panels

35 kW, 100 kW, 260 kW & 333 kW inverters   

Ballasted standing seams and custom barrel roof direct attach



A significant challenge to this project was one of the sites chosen, the UD Field House, that features a half barrel-shaped roof. Although the shape of the roof is nearly ideal for solar, the installation of flat solar modules on a rounded roof presented the team with quite a challenge.

The field house has a half-barrel shaped roof, which while offering a nearly ideal shape for catching the sun’s rays throughout the course of a day, was a safety and engineering concern for the company. Since there is no flat surface on the Field House roof, Standard Solar had to customize much of the installation process to the particulars of the job. Special fall-prevention gear using rappelling equipment and anchors was designed for the workers climbing around on the rounded surface. Much of the panels’ mounting hardware was altered to minimize the number of holes drilled in the roof in order to maintain structural integrity. And in order to wire the system, the electrical conduit required bending to fit the curves of the building.

In addition, the age of the building and its roof created another obstacle.

University of Delaware has buildings that date back to the 1700’s.  Standard Solar was challenged with integrating a sizeable solar solution at the university and minimizing any aesthetic impact. Almost every building on the campus was analyzed and explored to determine the technical and visual appropriateness of a solar solution. The Field House roof had to be strengthened and the penetrations of the mounting equipment were minimized to preserve the structural integrity.

“To our knowledge, this type of installation had never been done before,” explained Mike Sloan, General Manager of Commercial Business, Standard Solar.



Standard Solar and its financing partners entered into a 20 year PPA (Power Purchase Agreement) with UD.  The solar arrays installed are rated at 850KW and will generate 1035 MWh/year of electricity that will offset the University of Delaware’s more expensive grid supplied electricity.  Throughout the 20 year life of the PPA, it is estimated that the University of Delaware will save between $1.5M and $2M.  There was no initial cost to the University for the deployment of the solar system.

In addition, the solar system assisted the University in meeting the President’s Climate Action plan.  The net result was the University moved up nationally in the green campus ranking system.



Despite the engineering, financial, and aesthetic challenges faced by Standard Solar for this unique solar application at UD, the Company was able to deploy the various PV arrays without significant deviation from the original design presented to the University.  Standard Solar followed all their industry leading processes in order to build the arrays without any impact to the University of Delaware’s day-to-day operations or activity for students, faculty or staff. 

The specially designed rigging and rappelling equipment to install all the racking and modules on the barrel roof of the Field House performed flawlessly.  This is a testament to the operational excellence of Standard Solar’s engineering, procurement and construction teams to achieve this objective with no delays, no injuries and no cost impact to the energy savings of the University of Delaware. 

The size and scope of this type of PV installation had never been done before.

As part of the solar system, Standard Solar integrated a monitoring system that tracks all aspects of the performance of the PV arrays on the campus.  To date, the system continues to outperform expectations and estimates made prior to installation.  Outperforming estimates results in great savings for UD as a greater amount of lower cost PV generated electricity is offsetting the higher cost grid supplied electricity.



The University of Delaware Field House now hosts the largest rooftop solar installation in the state. The innovations made by Standard Solar during the project are capable of being reproduced time and again. The capabilities demonstrated by the engineering team at Standard Solar reinforce the possibilities surrounding future PV systems that lack straightforward solutions. In addition, the clean energy provided by the solar array will result in 1,810,000 fewer pounds of carbon dioxide being emitted annually, while reducing the University’s energy costs by 30%. The project is a shining example of the viability and practicality of solar installations for commercial, government and educational facilities.


About Standard Solar ( ):

Standard Solar, Inc. is a leader in the full-service development, construction, integration, financing and installation of solar electric systems. Dedicated to making solar solutions more accessible to consumers, businesses, institutions and governments, the company is leading the way to energy independence. Committed to offering responsible and energy cost-saving solar solutions that conform to the highest standards, Standard Solar is one of the most trusted and respected solar companies. Since 2004, Standard Solar has been the partner of choice to make solar energy financially accessible, helping customers through financing options, including Power Purchase Agreements (PPAs) and navigating expanded federal and state and local tax credits. The company’s Standard Energy Solutions (SES) division provides energy auditing and retrofitting services for energy improvement projects. Named one of the Fastest Growing Private Companies in America in 2010 and 2011 by Inc. magazine, Standard Solar is headquartered in Rockville, MD

Follow Standard Solar on Twitter at @StandardSolar, Facebook, LinkedIn and its Blog

The content & opinions in this article are the author’s and do not necessarily represent the views of AltEnergyMag

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