• Justin Schlee

Taylor Power System

University of Idaho Engineering students developed and installed new hydroelectric and solar energy sources at Taylor in 2010. Check out how student engineers put this project together!

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Taylor Wilderness Research Station

HC 83 Box 8070
Cascade, ID 83611
Solar Panels at Taylor Wilderness Research Station

Taylor Power System

Taylor Renewable Power Expansion Project
Every ounce of fuel used at the station has to be  flown into the site. Because research often requires power to conduct tests, this can present a problem. To help support the research station, a system consisting of a hydroelectric generator and a small gasoline generator was installed. But after more than a decade of service, the system is ready for an upgrade.

“They wanted us to install a more robust system so residents can be less worried about conserving every watt of power,” says Justin Schlee, a graduate student in electrical engineering. “They also want to install new equipment that uses more power, like machines used to process samples for analysis.”

An entirely new system consisting of new hydroelectric and solar energy sources, a new bank of large batteries, and a data acquisition unit capable of recording power, current and voltage profiles throughout the site. This commercial unit not only can switch the system between charging and dispensing energy, it can be used to track the electrical history of the site, diagnose potential problems and aid in regular maintenance.

When all is said and done, the new system will supply a peak load of up to 18 kilowatts of power, more than four times that of the original system. When fully charged, the batteries can provide enough reserve energy to meet demand for three days without falling low on reserves. 

The new power system consists of 2 solar arrays of 9 panels, 18 in all. Each panel is capable of producing up to 235 watts of power. The photovoltaic arrays combines can produce up to 4200 watts when they are combined. The solar arrays are only a part of the story though. The power that is collected in the day must be stored for later use in the night. To accomplish this goal, 32 flooded 440 Amp-Hour lead acid batteries were added to the system. The old power system had 4 similarly sized batteries, but the amount of storage was too little to keep up with the demands of the system. In order to make up for this shortfall a gas generator had to be run for up to 3 hours per day. The new storage will allow for the entire site to be without generation for up to 3 days. The total amount of storage for the new system is approximately 80,000 kwhr.

The renewable energy project was designed and implemented through the University of Idaho College of Engineering Capstone Project.