Installed in the summer of 2009, the two 11-by-11-foot solar arrays behind the Art Studio stand as a testament to Susquehanna’s commitment to exploring alternative energy options. These solar arrays give students the opportunity to experience solar photovoltaic (PV) technology firsthand.
Together the two arrays, each consisting of eight 200-watt solar panels, produce about 3,900 kilowatt-hours of electricity a year—about one-quarter to one-third of the electricity used by a typical home. One of the arrays contains a tracking mechanism that allows it to follow the sun across the sky while the other remains fixed, facing due south at all times.
The solar arrays are used in class and lab settings to give students hands-on experience with PV technology. They also serve as a case study on renewable energy, allowing students to assess the performance of the arrays and evaluate the benefits of the system in relation to its costs. A monitoring system connected to the arrays allows students to view solar data on the internet in real time.
The solar photovoltaic system, made possible by a generous donation from university Board of Trustee Sandy Rocks ’75, was inspired by a solar energy conference attended in the summer of 2008 by Derek Straub, Ph.D., associate professor of earth and environmental sciences, and three earth and environmental sciences majors, Dustin Koons ’11, Michelle Siegel ’10 and Andrew Cole ’10.
“The first step in any movement is to educate people. These new arrays will do that for the students and for the community.”
– Andrew Cole ’10
“Solar and other alternative energy sources will become more important as we transition away from fossil fuels, either to reduce their tremendous environmental impact or as a result of tightening supplies.”
– Derek Straub, assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences