Adventures with Solar Panels

in Bryn Mawr/Features by

by Lee McClenon 

Contributing columnist

When walking down to the Bryn Mawr gym you might notice something new in the scenic vista of landscaping along Cambrian Row. On Monday November 12, the college installed its first set of solar panels.

The panels were chosen and bought by the facilities office with the help of calculations done by senior math major Alisha Pradhan this summer. The large 12 panel set has a maximum power of 2820 watts and a smaller 2 panel set has the potential power of 570 watts. Both will be used to power lighting in the buildings of cambrian row. With an expected lifetime of 30 years and payback time on the initial investment estimated at 20 years improvements to solar technology have allowed the panels to be a sound investment. Although the north east does not have as many hours of strong daylight as some parts of the country, an expert from the Green Energy company says that the lower temperatures here should extend the overall lifetime of the product. In fact, New Jersey has the second largest amount of solar energy creation, after California. By current estimates, the array will save 1437.5 pounds of carbon emissions annually, the equivalent of planting 145 2″ wide trees.

The hill below Cambrian Row is south facing, making it the best for solar production. It is also one of the most scenic views on campus, fulfilling the secondary goal of the solar panel project: education. Facilities purposefully chose a ground level placement so that people can see the technology up close. Two panels, separated from the rest, are fully adjustable and will be able to be used by physics classrooms for experiments. Assistant director of facilities Jim McGaffin said that solar is still a developing kind of energy and so “a college campus is a good place to showcase the technology and inspire people”. One day it may be a Bi-Co student who helps to develop the next set of improvements to this technology.

For more about Bryn Mawr sustainability efforts, visit www.brynmawr.edu/sustainability. Haverford’s page can be found at www.haverford.edu/environmental.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.