KTU’s rooftop solar plant powers building the size of two football pitches

Source: press release, 17 June 2021

The Renewable Resources Lab of Kaunas University of Technology
The Renewable Resources Lab of Kaunas University of Technology (photo: KTU)

This month, Renewable Resources Lab of Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) – the largest solar power plant in the Baltic States, which was installed on the roof of one of the buildings on the KTU campus – was chosen among the finalists of 21st Energy Globe World Award.

Renewable Resources Lab was selected from nearly 2,500 entries from more than 180 countries around the world. According to Prof KTU Saulius Gudžius, Head of the Department of Energy Systems at KTU Faculty of Electrical and Electronics Engineering, this project is both educational, introducing students to renewable energy sources, and contributing to mitigating climate change and creating a new energy system. Such technology is expected to provide sufficient energy resources, be safe and environmentally friendly, and become a leader in future technologies.

‘This project stands out for its uniqueness as a solution combining several energy sources. The characteristics of the University buildings have been utilised in such a way as to maximise the use of solar energy and create opportunities to store thermal energy, which is used for heating buildings when needed,’ says Prof Gudžius.

The implementation of this project and the generation of heat and electricity from renewable energy sources using local equipment already has significantly contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions. However, the expected results of the project in the long run – up to 20% of energy needed for the building and 2/3 of the required heating energy will be produced by the new solar energy power plant. This will help heating more than 14 thousand square metres of premises and will annually reduce CO2 emissions by more than 6 tonnes.

The immense renewable resources lab is used for the University’s energy needs: the photovoltaic energy is employed to provide energy for heat pumps, for lighting and other purposes.

The authors of the unique idea to modernise KTU heat and electricity economy, Dr Jonas Vanagas and Dr Jurgita Černeckienė, used the most innovative solutions. Via Solis, an international manufacturer of PV glass and provider of solar energy solutions helped to implement the technical part of the project – to install a solar power plant on the KTU Faculty of Construction and Architecture building.

During the awarded project implemented at the KTU campus, the heat and electricity facilities in the University building No 9 were modernised, including the installation of a photovoltaic power plant for electricity generation and a geothermal energy system (water-ground heat pumps) with underground energy storage. The total area of the roofs is 5,500 m2 and the optimal number of photovoltaic modules planned for this area is 1,520 units with a total capacity of 380 kWp. The generated energy is fed to the converters connected to the general electricity network of the buildings.

“The highly innovative project is a great example of how hybrid systems can be developed. We have shown the direction in which Europe, and probably the whole world, will move,” say the initiators of the project.

The University is determined to continue to implement and develop alternative energy solutions, as it is estimated that this would allow the educational institution to save over EUR 150 thousand per year.

The unique renewable energy project in Europe was funded by the Lithuanian Environmental Investment Fund (LEIF), which provided EU support for the development of modern renewable energy sources.