Fairbanks school district experiments with solar power

From The Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, Sunday, June 27, 2010:

Eighty narrow strips of solar cells in the pattern of a giant xylophone blinked in the bright Fairbanks sunshine this week. The first solar laminate wall in Alaska covers the south side of the school district’s facility building downtown.

Larry Morris pointed to a dip in a graph showing the solar array’s electricity generation over time.

“Here we had a little cloud come through at about 3 o’clock,” said Morris, projects manager for the school district.

Rather than typical solar panels that are mounted on rooftops, these thin films of silicon were applied directly to the wall panels.

“It’s literally like a sticker, a decal, with a backing on it,” said Fred Reardon, solar operations manager for Whirlwind Steel, which manufactures metal roof panels with solar laminates. “You have a thick bonding material like a black tar goop.”

The Fairbanks North Star Borough School District is experimenting with this system, called building-integrated photovoltaics, to test its energy efficiency and its potential for other buildings.