The Richmond Register

June 27, 2013

EKU unveils solar panels for energy researchers

By Seth Littrell
Register News Writer

RICHMOND — Eastern Kentucky University unveiled a new solar panel system Thursday that will help power the New Science Building and allow students to study the alternative power source.

The system, located on the building’s roof, has seven panels active now, but up to 10 more can be added, said Alice Jones, director of the EKU’s Office of Sustainability.

“This gives us the beginnings of experience gathering real-time data and having students compare the power outputs,” Jones said.

The 1.6 kWh (kilowatt per hour) system cost $10,000.

The system is calculated to save EKU enough money in 10 years to recoup its cost.

Funding for the project was supplied through a partnership between EKU and Bluegrass Greensource, with both parties contributing $5,000.

The installation was completed by Sunlink Solar, a Somerset-based solar-product business. Sunlink also installed real-time energy logging and display capabilities so the system’s output can be monitored by students and compared to other types of energy sources.

Jones said the panels are expected to produce 1,460 kilowatts a year. That is roughly equal to burning 161 gallons of gasoline, and it is enough energy to keep 20 light bulbs powered for a year.

She said the panels have a significant, positive impact on the environment as well. The clean energy from the panels is expected to reduce carbon emissions by 157 tons annually.

The system is not being used to power any specific part of the science building or campus. The energy gathered from the panels is being directed into the power grid instead. Jones said the power will be consumed by campus buildings as well as others in the area.

The energy logging statistics for the panels will be tracked online by emphaseenergy.com. The website will show how much energy the system is collecting, the total amount it has collected and how those numbers compare with other forms of energy. Jones said she hoped the system’s information would be available by the end of next week.

Seth Littrell can be reached at slittrell@richmondregister.com or 624-6623.