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Several Tribes: Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute - 2000 Project

Project Overview
Tribe/Awardee: Several Tribes/Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
Location: Albuquerque, NM
Project Title: Photovoltaic, wind, Solar Hot Water Systems for On/Off Grid-Connected Power to SIPI Campus
Type of Application: Deployment
DOE Grant Number: DE-FC36-00GO10629
Project Amounts:
DOE: $523,938
Awardee: $141,686
Total: $665,624
Project Status: Complete  More
Project Period
of Performance:
Start: September 2000
End: September 2002


The Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute's (SIPI) renewable energy program seeks to establish renewable energy technology hardware on and around the campus, which will supplement and create the educational resources to teach renewable energy courses at its campus. Under the subject agreement, SIPI will design, install, operate, and maintain photovoltaic, wind and solar hot water systems to be located at the SIPI campus and educate and train Native American students in renewable energy technology.

SIPI's vision is to establish a Renewable Energy Program whose goals are:

  • To prepare students both for technical careers in renewable energy technologies and for their pursuit of advanced studies in renewable energy engineering and technology;

  • To demonstrate and provide examples on SIPI's campus of the practical uses of renewable energy technology for its students, its faculty, and the community at large; and

  • To employ renewable energy technologies to produce useful and environmentally benign energy on the SIPI campus, while simultaneously providing students with the opportunity for hands-on experience with these systems.

These goals will be advanced first, through the installation and use on campus of commercial renewable energy systems and second, the integration into SIPI's curriculum of course on renewable energy science, engineering, and technology.

Project Description

The photographs show the existing SIPI facilities and greenhouse, which will incorporate the renewable energy systems for energy production and curriculum. (Photos courtesy of the U.S. DOE Golden Field Office)

The Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute's (SIPI) renewable energy program seeks to establish renewable energy technology hardware on and around the campus, which will supplement and create the educational resources to teach renewable energy courses at its campus. Under the subject agreement, SIPI will design, install, operate, and maintain photovoltaic, wind, and solar hot water systems to be located at the SIPI campus, and educate and train Native American students in renewable energy technology.

Nine commercial renewable energy systems have been selected both to meet energy needs on the campus and to be serving the objects of practical study in the laboratory portions of the renewable energy courses. The systems include two wind turbines, a large grid-tied photovoltaic (PV) system, a stand-alone hybrid system for rural domestic electrification, a PV-powered water pumping system, a solar thermal hot water heating system, and a solar hot air system. Systems to be installed under this project include:

SIPI will concurrently implement an educational curriculum that focuses on applicable renewable energy technologies and sciences. SIPI will integrate renewable energy technology experiential learning into the following degree/certificate programs: Electronics Technology, Environmental Science, Agricultural Science and Natural Resources.

Hardware Program Plan

Under the Cooperative Agreement with the U.S. Department of Energy, SIPI will engineer, design, and build/construct a photovoltaic/wind and solar hot water/air systems to be located at the SIPI campus. The PV will use single or polycrystalline, tempered glass, UL rated modules utilizing both fixed and tracking arrays. The PV Array, Wind Turbine, and Solar hot Water System will be totally weather resistant including rain, wind, snow, hail, and sleet. Particular attention shall be made with regard to wind load and freezing calculations. Utility grade inverters and other hardware will be used unless otherwise approved by DOE. Quick disconnect hardware will be utilized where ever possible. The on-grid AC electricity generated by the PV will be connected to the campus building electrical systems.

The wind turbine system shall utilize over speed devices and regulators that prevent damage to the turbine or overcharging to the batteries. The wind turbine will be permanently erected in the fenced area of the agricultural fields in the northwest quadrant of the campus. A small wind turbine shall be purchased for laboratory and instructional purposes. A small wind tunnel will be constructed with a powerful fan that will simulate the wind for purposes of operating observations on the ground.

SIPI proposes the installation of the following renewable energy equipment in such a manner that it will enhance the campus in addition to providing educational learning applications:

  • A 1.0kW Bergey wind turbine:

    Installed on a 40-foot tower, off-grid, with a Trace power module/inverter and four (4) 350-amp/hour batteries set on campus to provide real-time actual learning from an electrical generating wind turbine. The wind turbine and tower operation will be used as a class-teaching tool with operation instructions and theory for all to follow. Attention will be given to proper review and layout to erection, safety of the tower raising crew, guide-wires installation, and sequencing of installation for instructional purposes. Installation will be videotaped for future reference. When not used as a teaching tool, the wind turbine and tower will be in operation, providing supplemental water-pumping power in the agricultural area of the campus.

  • An 11,040-watt PV array:

    Utilizing a steel frame sited on concrete pillars, 115 feet long by 14 feet wide, enough to provide shaded parking for 11 cars. The array will consist of 92 each 120-watt Astropower AP-1206 modules configured in 4 parallel strings of 23 modules in series. The inverter proposed is a Trace Technologies Model N.PV-10208, with a maximum continuous AC power rating of l0 kW. A 10 KVA isolation transformer, primary 208 V delta, Secondary 480/277 V Wye 2X2.5%; 60 hertz; style MT 2739, enclosure 3R-W, of a size, such that it could function both as a shade source, for esthetics, useable by the students and faculty and a power source. The Solar Carport will be located in a new parking lot west of the current Administration parking lot, configured in an east/west position. The PV Array will be ultimately grid-connected to the Public Service Company of New Mexico's system via the electric service entrance in the Administration building.

  • A mobile stand-alone PV hybrid 1,200-watt array:

    Using 12 Matrix PW-1000 modules mounted on an Array Technologies Wattsun Solar All Azimuth Tracker. The inverter is a Trace 2512 2.5kW sine wave. It will use Trace C60-12/24 volt charge/load controllers. There are 8 each Concorde 255 amp/hour Lead acid sealed (Gel) batteries mounted in a Zomeworks "Cool-Cell battery box. A Generac Model EPS-8-AC 8000 watt propane generator, together with a 50 gallon propane tank will provide ample power to any site chosen to hook it up to. Electrical connections will be quick-disconnect for ease of assembly/disassembly. In addition to being an on site educational tool, this system will also be utilized for field trips and remote power demonstrations to tribes with little or no access to conventional power or telecommunication facilities.

  • A 340-watt MiIlennia Thin Film array:

    Mounted on an eight-module Zomeworks passive tracker system powering a Dankoff Sunrise Submersible, Model No. 5218 water pump to provide water for the Distillation Lab located on campus. Aspects learned here will include determining well depth and sizing of the PV array, and pumping motors and amounts of water pumped per system and remote data acquisition techniques.

  • A 1,200-watt PV array:

    Using 12 each Matrix PW 1000 modules mounted on an Array Technologies Wattsun Solar Dual Axis Tracker, connected to a Dankoff TSP -2000 submersible well pump to irrigate approximately 40 acres of farming lands. Water is a scarce resource in the Southwest, where many of the SIPI student population are based. Most water resources lay in underground aquifers. The acquisition and management of the water resource is crucial for the continued existence of the tribes. The PV arrays will be sized specifically to the depth of the potable water table and the flow rate required. The existing farming program currently has a greenhouse and can plan to expand by teaching traditional fanning and irrigating methods to Native students. It will also be a functioning system demonstrating how remote tribal farmers and ranchers can utilize solar power. The system will include a 10,000-gallon water storage tank constructed of steel plates on a concrete pad. The storage tank will be used for irrigation.

  • 40 each Heliodyne Gobi 410 solar hot water collectors:

    Mounted on the roof of the SIPI Physical Plant and closed-loop tied to the natural gas-heated boilers. Each Gobi 410 produces 44,000 BTUs/day X 40 — 1,760,000 BTU's/day produced by the Hot water system. The existing hot-water distribution system can then continue to work as is. The Physical Plant is the centralized hot-water provider to the Campus. Thus, by integrating into the current building configuration, the usage of the energy generated by the hot-water system will always be used by someone, somewhere, on campus.

  • A solar hot air system:

    In the Twelve Feathers doublewide trailer classroom/office. This project consists of using the SolAire Solar Energy System, which includes an Energy Control Package to reduce the amount of natural gas required to heat a 32' x 28' portable classroom. The estimated annual natural gas requirement to heat the portable classroom is 46.5 million BTUs. This estimate was made using BIN temperature data for Albuquerque and consideration for internal heat gain provided by lights and people during occupied hours. The calculations assume a room temperature setting of 70°F and a furnace efficiency of 65%. The Energy Control Package incorporates a temperature setback function. This component will automatically reset the space temperature from 70°F to 55°F during unoccupied hours. Unoccupied hours are considered to be 6:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m. during the week and all day Saturday and Sunday. As this constitutes 64% of the time, the natural gas usage can be reduced by 20 million BTUs ([load at 70° F - load at 55°F]* 64%) per year on average and does not include additional savings, which can be achieved by holiday setback. The solar heating system will consist of a 48 square foot Sol Aire air collector, Energy Control Package, energy efficient blower and insulated air duct. The air collector system is very simple, efficient and immune to the problems of liquid collectors such as freezing and leakage. The blower, a simple squirrel cage fan, will draw air from the bottom of the furnace room, through the air collector, and be delivered to a ceiling register mounted near the large windows in the front of the building. The Energy Control Package allows the blower to operate whenever the room is cold and the air temperature in the collector is greater than 110°F. A system of this size can displace 18 million BTUs of natural gas each heating season if fully utilized.

  • Wind tunnel and small wind turbine:

    SIPI also proposes to build a small-scale wind tunnel in its lab in which to blow fan-driven winds into the blades of a Whisper 403 wind turbine to simulate tower-mounted scenario. Since the larger wind turbine is too large to see in the operational mode, observing a smaller, lab scale wind turbine will be used in a classroom setting. The wind tunnel will match the size of the blades, only five feet in diameter. It will have a venturi inside, made out of foam to speed up fan-generated wind. In this manner, the turbine, hooked up to data measuring systems can simulate actual operation and theory can be discussed and displayed for the students. Sandia National Labs (SNL) Wind Department will take the lead in this area by providing technical advice in the construction of the wind tunnel and integration of the wind turbine. SNL will also provide technical classroom support on the wind tunnel/turbine operation.

  • Weather station and monitoring devices:

    On various generating systems. NMSU's SWTDI will take the lead in providing a weather station that monitors ambient air temperature, wind speed, solar insolation, among other data. With it, we can measure performance of the various renewable energy systems and display output in a suitable method in which students can learn. The SWTDI will also provide monitoring systems where feasible such as on the I1 kW Solar Carport, and the 1.5 kW wind turbine, utilizing Campbell scientific data acquisition devices.

Project Location

The Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute (SIPI), in Albuquerque, NM, is a federally supported two-year institution, funded by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA). SIPI is situated on General Services Administration (GSA) operated lands approximately 165 acres. It is a residential community with enrollment of 650 students per trimester. The campus was established in 1971 with the purpose of serving the educational needs of the Native American community.

Geographically, the campus is located in the heart of Indian Country, (northwest quadrant of Albuquerque, NM), the center of New Mexico's high-tech corridor (Los Alamos Labs, Sandia Labs), five miles from a major university (UNM) and the largest vocational-technical institution in the state. Within SIPI's immediate recruiting area, the 1990 census indicates there are over 195,000 Native American, which is half of all American Indians.

Project Status

This project is complete. For details, see the final report (PDF 496 KB). Download Adobe Reader.

For additional information, contact one of the project contacts.

Project Contact

Val Montoya
Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
P.O. Box 10146
Albuquerque, NM 87184
Telephone: (505) 346-2351
Fax: (505) 346-2343

Dean Pershall
Southwestern Indian Polytechnic Institute
Electronics Technology Program
P.O. Box 10146
Albuquerque, NM 87184
Telephone: (505) 346-2359
Fax: (505) 346-2381

David Melton
Sacred Power Corporation
2401 12th Street N.W., Suite 204-205
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Telephone: (505) 247-4604
Fax: (505) 247-4616

Odes D. Armjijo-Caster
Sacred Power Corporation
2401 12th Street N.W., Suite 204-205
Albuquerque, NM 87104
Telephone: (505) 842-1122