Living in Michigan, we all have firsthand experience of living with sun deprivation during the long winter months. Thankfully, now that February has arrived, it is getting noticeable that the days are getting longer. It’s not quite as dark when you get home from work as it was a month ago.
During February, the length of each day grows approximately 2 ½ minutes longer than each previous day. The days will keep increasing at a faster rate until March, when each day will be almost 3 minutes longer than the previous. After March, the length of each day will continue to increase but at a slower rate for another 3 months until we reach the longest day of the year, the summer solstice, on June 20 when we will enjoy about 15 hours and 20 minutes of daylight.
All of this upcoming sunshine is especially good news for us here at COS, as our new 60KW solar array is now online and ready to soak up all of those extra minutes of rays per day and put them to good use for our church and our earth!
In 2015, COS installed a 20KW solar array, which has been steadily absorbing the sun’s energy and helping to reduce the carbon emissions that our church is responsible for. Since 2015, the 20KW solar array has produced over 95 MWh of energy. This is roughly enough energy to power all of the households in Grand Rapids for one hour. Because this energy was produced without using fossil fuels, our church avoided releasing about 150,000 pounds of C02 into the atmosphere. A healthy, mature tree can remove approximately 48 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere in one year. Based on this, our solar panel “forest” has been doing the equivalent carbon reduction work per year of 765 mature healthy trees.
In 2019, COS embarked on a project to triple the output of the 20KW system to 60KW, and in late December, this system came online and is now producing energy. The expanded system is projected to produce over 65Mwh per year and save COS over $8,000 annually in energy costs. While it’s only been online for a short time it is already proving its value. For example, reviewing June energy production for the past three years, our system produced a maximum of 130Kwh of energy on peak days. (Remember, June has roughly 15 hours of sunshine per day). On February 2nd, 2020, our system set a new record producing over 180 Kwh of energy in just one day, with only about 10 hours of daylight.
It will be interesting to watch the energy production of our new system as we move forward in the coming months as each new day gets longer and brings a chance of setting a new record energy production!
The cool thing is, we can all keep an eye on this. Solar Winds, the company that installed the system has a dashboard where anyone can check on our church’s solar array production.
Or visit https://monitoringpublic.solaredge.com/ and click on “Public Sites” (no need to login) and search for Grand Rapids. You will also see there are several other sites in Grand Rapids you can view as well. Here is a snapshot of the Church of the Servant dashboard for February 2020:
The dashboard began collecting data from the new panels starting in February, so January numbers do not accurately reflect the increased production of the system. Also, you will notice a time from October to December 2019 where the system was offline during the installation of the new panels.
We would like to give thanks to the facilities committee for leading this effort to decrease the environmental impact of our facility on the planet and to ensure a more sustainable energy future for our church. The Creation care team at COS is planning a celebration in early summer to highlight the solar panels and the positive impact they have had and will continue to have on God’s creation. Look for more information about this as the days get longer and we all have had an opportunity to bask in the abundant and sustaining energy that God has given us in the Sun.