Date of Graduation

Spring 2017

Document Type

Honors Research Project

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science


Civil Engineering - Cooperative Education

Research Sponsor

Dr. Christopher Miller

First Reader

David Roke

Second Reader

Paul Pickett


This project examines the feasibility of installing a solar panel array to the top deck of the Exchange Parking deck via canopy structure. Installation of solar panels would provide potential environmental and financial benefits to The University of Akron. Available solar panels analyzed were limited to two types, monocrystalline and polycrystalline, based on the properties of each panel. The pool of available panels was then narrowed to the 10 most promising panels based on power generated and cost. The most cost efficient panel was then chosen based on projected cost savings over a 25-year period, based on guaranteed performance warranty given for each panel. A canopy system was then designed to support the weight of the panels. The cost savings over the 25-year lifespan of best available panel was found to be $1,163,000, but the cost of the canopy support structure and solar panel material was found to be $2,673,000. This leads to a cost deficiency of $1,510,000 over the 25-year performance warranty period for the panels and a payback period of 60 years. Given the risks associated with a payback period 45 years beyond the warranty period, it is therefore recommended that a solar panel array is not constructed on the Exchange Parking Deck at this time. Once newer technologies with better power conversion efficiencies are available for purchase, a new study should be done to determine feasibility of installation.