University United Methodist Church to dedicate solar energy project

Mark+Horst%2C+employee+with+King+Solar%2C+updates+solar+panel+equipment+on+the+roof+of+University+Methodist+Church+on+April+14.

Mark Horst, employee with King Solar, updates solar panel equipment on the roof of University Methodist Church on April 14.

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he University United Methodist Church (UUMC) is now powered through solar energy.

UUMC has a new rooftop solar array on its roof. The church is located across the street from the Wichita State campus at 21st and Yale.

The installation of the panels cost $70,000 and took about two weeks to install, said Bill Wentz, WSU distinguished professor emeritus of aerospace engineering. Wentz said the installation was partially delayed due to winter weather conditions last month. Wentz initiated the project for the church.

“We wanted to do some research with this,” Wentz said. “We asked for, and they give us quite a bit of extra instrumentation … A year ago, in January, we were saying 15 percent was about as good as you could do with efficiency. These are 20 percent efficient. Just in a year, they’ve jumped up.”

Wentz said analyzing the data of how the solar energy is used will show how other buildings can be powered using solar energy.

The installation of the panels is one of 15 projects funded through Westar Energy’s Solar Photovoltaic Program. Wentz said the project funds go directly to the church and not to WSU. He said there were about 100 initial applicants for the program, which were narrowed down over time.

A public unveiling of the installation project will take place from 10:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Wednesday at the church. The event is Earth Day-themed and will include electric cars being charged by solar electricity, among other things.

An official dedication ceremony will start at 1:30 p.m. and will feature a music performance by students at Cloud Elementary School.

The church also offers a chance to see real-time information of how the solar energy powers the church. On TV screens in the church, patrons can view a loop of information showing how the solar energy powers the church. In addition, the church’s website, uumc.net, shows live updates of the solar energy information.

Wentz said he thinks solar powered buildings could be an aspect of WSU’s Innovation Campus.

“It’s the future,” he said.

For more information, visit www.uumc.net/solar.