The College of Engineering officially unveiled a new Solar Electric System atop its Center for Engineering Education and Research (CEER) on Friday, Nov. 16. The event included brief remarks by Engineering dean, Dr. Gary Gabriele; University vice president for Academic Affairs, Dr. John Johannes; Electrical and Computer Engineering chair, Dr. Pritpal Singh; and University president; the Rev. Peter M. Donohue, O.S.A. Also attending was State Senator Connie Williams, of the 17th Senatorial District, which includes Villanova. In her remarks, Sen. Williams noted the importance of this type of research and education in helping to support the Commonwealth's Energy Independence initiatives.
After Father Donohue threw the switch to activate the solar electric system, the Villanova graduate and undergraduate students explained the impact of the project on their education. Kalyan Rapolu and Amal Kabalan, two of the graduate students who worked on the project discussed how it was provided hands-on experience with solar energy that vastly improved their appreciation of the real world issues involved in solar energy. Two undergraduate students Haig Norian and Joshua Phelps demonstrated how a new flat panel display would eventually be installed in the entrance of the CEER and in other locations around the campus to show the amount of power generated by the Solar Electric System, weather information and the amount of carbon dioxide being offset by the solar panels. This Solar Electric System is the University’s first renewable energy source to provide clean, pollution-free power on campus.
Villanova’s Solar Electric System is comprised of 24 180-watt crystalline silicon solar panels which are installed atop CEER. The output from the five-foot by two-foot solar panels is conditioned to provide high quality AC power for the building using an inverter. The panels provide up to 4,000 watts of power to offset utility-supplied power for the CEER building.
Funded by a $15,000 matching-grant provided by The Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania (SEF) and supported by Pennsylvania Power and Light, the project will help train Villanova students in the design and installation of solar electric systems.
Villanova University is one of only six colleges and universities supported by the Solar Scholars Program. Solar Scholars™ is an innovative solar energy educational program created by the Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania (SEF), designed to provide college students and faculty a unique hands-on exposure to the application of solar technology as a renewable energy source. Other members of the six-college coalition in this solar-energy initiative include Penn State University, Bucknell University, Clarion University, Messiah College and Mercyhurst College.
“The SEF is proud to assist Villanova University in the implementation of this unique renewable energy training program,” said Jennifer Hopkins, President of SEF. “Solar Scholars was a very competitive grant competition, and Villanova’s existing sustainability focus contributed to winning this award.”
Villanova is firmly committed to issues of environmental sustainability. Last May, the University’s president, Father Donohue, signed the American College & University Presidents Climate Commitment. The ACUPCC is dedicated to the critical research and education needed to end global warming. Two buildings on campus, a new College of Nursing and a new School of Law, are being built according to LEED-certified specifications. The Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design—LEED—Green Building Rating System, developed by the United States Green Building Council, provides a suite of standards for environmentally sustainable construction.