Solar Power At West Virginia College A Student’s Idea

Here’s a bright idea: a solar panel above the doorway of West Virginia Wesleyan College’s Christopher Hall of Science to harvest the power of the sun and store enough electricity to power offices inside the building.

The project came about when Wesleyan senior engineering/physics major Scott Roberts and Research Assistant Professor of Physics Dr. Thomas Brennan discovered their mutual interest in renewable energy, and decided to put it to work. (A discovery aided, no doubt, by the fact that Brennan can often be seen on campus using small solar panels to power a guitar and amplifier.) Roberts said he was interested in familiarizing himself with solar tech, and was curious to find out if it could power an office.

WVWC Solar Power system

image via West Virginia Wesleyan College

“Scott initially wanted to learn how to build and install a solar panel so that in the future he would be able to repeat the project at his home,” Brennan said, in a statement. “I hope that by seeing this project unfold successfully, more people will be inspired, like Scott, to take the initiative and put a little money and effort forward to install even more solar panel systems on campus.”

The solar panel installed at Christopher Hall will possesses a peak generating capacity of around 200 watts, enough (with the aid of a battery) to power the fluorescent lights in the science building, which consume around 20 watts, and even have enough power left over to operate a refrigerator. (When clouds roll in, however, the office will continue to operate as usual on electricity from the grid.)

Roberts and the (solar rockstar) Professor Brennan plan to analyze the efficiency of the solar power system over the course of its operation, and hope that this installation will not only become permanent, but the first of many for the college.

Susan DeFreitas has covered all manner of green technology for EarthTechling since 2009. She is a graduate of Prescott College for the Liberal Arts and the Environment, and has a background in marketing green businesses. Her work on green living has been featured in Yes! Magazine, the Utne Reader and Natural Home.