Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

First Advisor

Harold Glasser

Second Advisor

Chris Caprara


The solar photovoltaic array at Miller Auditorium is a 50 kW DC system that has relied on five seasonal angle adjustments and no cleaning measures to reach an average of 64.7 MWh annual energy generation since 2012 1 . This amount of energy generation yields $7,046 in annual energy savings based on current market pricing for end use electricity of $0.1089/kWh 2 . The current adjustment schedule based on seasonal tilts accounts for an annual costs between $760 and $848, but actual adjustments have historically not taken place according to the existing schedule. The analysis focuses on optimizing net energy savings of the Miller Array by studying least cost approaches to tilt schedules and panel cleaning. Cleaning test groups are designed to measure viability and costeffectiveness of panel cleaning with respect to pollen, dust, and soiling accumulation. Industry standard practices for preventative panel maintenance often neglect panel cleaning and thus do not consider the potential impacts on system performance. According to a full year of testing, the study determined that panels fixed at 35 degrees provide the least cost solution for the WMU Miller Array due to its relatively high net cost savings and projected consistency. Each panel group achieved comparable annual energy generation, however the seasonal panel group requires $760 annually to adjust, thus reducing its net annual savings. The 20 degree fixed panel group is a viable option based on its absence of adjustment costs, however energy production losses are subject to variations in snow and weather.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access

Pitschel Thesis _1 Final Pres 160421.pdf (6287 kB)
Thesis Presentation