On June 5, 2021, World Environment Day, the video featuring the winners and finalists of the 21st Energy Globe World Award was broadcasted. Among the finalists – Kaunas University of Technology (KTU) with the project of implementing Renewable Resources Lab on the roof of one of the buildings on the KTU campus.
This project, selected from nearly 2,500 entries from more than 180 countries around the world, was presented to the global public at a specially organized event. KTU was among the finalists in the Youth category for the Energy Globe, the most renowned environmental prize worldwide.
In recent years, the topic of environmental protection has become of utmost importance all over the world; many science groups focus their research on making the Earth a better place to live. KTU’s project of installing a rooftop solar plant is a great illustration of this tendency.
“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 maximize the use of solar energy and create opportunities to store thermal energy, which is used for heating buildings when needed”, said Prof KTU Saulius Gudžius, Head of the Department of Energy Systems at KTU Faculty of Electrical and Electronics Engineering.
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. This has significantly contributed to the reduction of greenhouse gas.
According to Prof Gudžius, 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.
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.
“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”, said 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 €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.