$900k grant to SIUC College of Engineering for solar project

Project Will Deliver Solar, Energy Storage and Communication Resilience

$900k grant to SIUC College of Engineering for solar project

CARBONDALE, IL. (KFVS) - The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency has awarded Southern Illinois University Carbondale a $900,000 grant.

It’s for a unique solar photovoltaic plus energy storage and communication resiliency project, according to the EPA.

The “SIU Solar + Storage project” will have over 150 kilowatts of solar generation and 310k Wh of storage capacity in a highly-visible section of campus at the College of Engineering.

This will help reduce dependency on electricity and be an educational tool.

SIUC Ph.D. student Ali Parizad is excited about the new project. He said it will help in his renewable energy program.

“When we got this project, I was like thank you, thank you, it’s great,” Parizad excitedly said.

As a student a part of College of Engineering Department, Parizad said the new program will be hands-on training.

“From a financial point of view, and also I can learn many things, practical things. It’s great for us. I can expand this experience into my future job," Parizad said.

IEPA Agency Director John J. Kim said it’s the first of it’s kind Illinois EPA’s Office of Energy. “Illinois EPA looks forward to watching the project evolve as students engage with the technology from different perspectives," Kim said.

Dr. Spyros Tragoudas is the department chair for electrical and computer engineering, he is also spearheading the project.

“It will be a great educational tool for students. It will be a great facility for researchers to explore aspects of harvesting energy and also in telecommunications.”

This project will have additional benefits in communication, even in a potential disaster. The solar-powered long-term evolution (LTE) communication modules will sustain cellular communication for the SIU Police Department, the Carbondale Police Department, and the Carbondale Fire Department in the event of power disruption.

“First responders will be able to have access to the infrastructure. Let’s say if communications are lost, they will be able to connect to this wireless network and from there they can communicate elsewhere,” Tragoudas said.

The wireless infrastructure will consist of three mini-towers at the Health Services building, The Morris Library and engineering building.

IEPA will provide $900,000 and the University will provide $180,000 totaling $1.8 million.

"The SIU Solar + Storage project will provide energy savings and emergency communications resiliency for the campus and Carbondale community as well as enhance educational opportunities for the University’s College of Engineering,” said Director John J. Kim. “Illinois EPA looks forward to watching the project evolve as students engage with the technology from different perspectives.”

Phase 1 includes the installation of the equipment, which is expected to be finished by June of next year.

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