The mission of this center is to conduct research, development and outreach on renewable energy systems. Current projects are focused on active and passive solar heating, photovoltaics, solar daylighting and novel systems for storage of solar energy.
Research projects include computer simulations and experiments with a passive solar heating system that uses heat pipes to transfer heat into the building, while avoiding losses during nighttime and cloudy days. This system has proven to be roughly twice as effective as conventional passive solar systems in moderate climates such as Kentucky. Computer simulations are also underway to evaluate the feasibility of thermochemical storage of solar energy for electric power systems.
REAL has promoted awareness and knowledge of solar energy technologies by installing and monitoring the following demonstration systems in Kentucky: 1) Pool heating system, Frankfort YMCA, 2) Water heating and daylighting systems, Ramsey Middle School and Aiken Road Elementary School, 3) Photovoltaic street light comparison, Louisville Metro, 4) 25 residential solar water heating systems across Kentucky, 5) 50kW photovoltaic system, biohazard lab, Shelby Campus, 6) Photovoltaic and water heating system, Sackett Hall. Additional outreach activities include solar energy installer training workshops (conducted by the Kentucky Solar Partnership http://www.kysolar.org/) and exhibits at the Kentucky State Fair.
REAL supports the Partnership for a Green City, a collaboration of the Louisville Metro government, University of Louisville and the Jefferson County Public Schools. Its goals are to improve the environment and public health, develop holistic environmental education programs, and to create a sustainable community, saving taxpayer dollars and conserving energy in the process.
REAL is proud to have contributed to the expansion of retailers and installers in Kentucky and to increased awareness of the potential for solar systems in the state. With relatively mild winters and approximately 2/3 the solar radiation of the desert southwest, many solar technologies are viable and appropriate here. With rising energy costs and growing concern about pollution and climate change, REAL seeks to develop and transfer green energy technologies to promote a sustainable future for planet Earth.