Solar panels generate eco-friendly energy at univ.
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 21:10
In the 2010-2011 academic year, the university spent $28.8 million on energy consumption, including $21 million on electricity alone, according to the Facilities and Auxiliary Services website.
Anne Marie Crossan, the assistant director of Operations and Energy, stated in an email that the university is saving money on energy by hosting solar panels.
Crossan said the panels are located at the Field House, Clayton Hall and 461 Wyoming Rd. She said if future panels were to be added or built, they would have to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.
“Plans would have to be evaluated to determine if it is cost-effective,” Crossan said.
Solar power is electricity generated by harnessing the energy of the sun, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Solar panels are often used to convert sunlight into energy, though they are not standard issue as of yet.
Crossman said the solar panels on campus currently are not owned or operated by the university because they are part of a Power Purchase Agreement. According to Crossan, the university hosts the solar panels which were installed by Standard Solar, a solar electric installation and developer, and developed by Perpetual Energy Systems LLC, a company the distributes and finances energy systems. The two companies own and operate the solar panels, and the university purchases the solar energy that is produced.
On the Facilities and Auxiliary Services website, there is a section that tracks how much solar energy is being produced by each building each hour. Yesterday, the Field House produced 36.6 kilowatts of energy by 12 p.m.
According to Steven Hegedus, an expert in the Institute of Energy Conversion, solar panels will be one of the great markets in the future, and the university could lead the charge on research into solar panel energy.
“Something that a lot of people don’t realize is that the Institute of Energy Conversion at the University of Delaware is the world’s oldest solar energy lab, and we are one of the leaders in the country in doing solar energy research,” Hegedus said.
The world’s first solar house was built on campus in 1972 in the building that currently houses the university emergency care unit garage on South Chapel Street, he said.
Ismat Shah, a physics and materials science professor, said solar panels have become less popular in the past few years. He said one reason is that factories and companies are going out of business, including one of the biggest in the world, SunPower, located in the Philippines. This could be attributed to the high cost of running solar power.
Shah said he installed solar panels on his roof in 2009. His television, refrigerator and lights all run on solar cell power.
“The most important thing for me is that I teach about renewable energy,” Shah said. “Now, with these panels on my house, I don’t feel like a hypocrite.”
He said the panels produce more energy than his home needs, so he gives the energy back to the city, which offsets his gas bill.