Apr 06 2011
This article was published on Apr 06 2011 and was archived on Apr 07 2012. The information below may be outdated or inaccurate.
New River Community College has received a $42,300 grant to purchase and install a new piece of "green" electrical equipment called a solar tracker on the college's campus in Dublin.
The award comes from the Virginia Local Government and School Renewable Energy Utilization Program, through State Energy Program (SEP) funds made available as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).
The state-of-the-art solar tracker will make it possible to increase the college's existing photovoltaic solar energy production by allowing the system to "track" or follow the maximum solar energy path of the sun.
A particularly important part of the tracker is its ability to adapt to changing weather conditions - like those often seen in the New River Valley area. The tracking system is connected to a weather station and works with a programmable logic controller (PLC). The system uses this technology to orient NRCC's solar panels and permits the tracker to operate under a variety of climate conditions including snow, electrical storms, fog and high winds.
The system will be used as an instructional tool for students in NRCC's Renewable Energy Certificate, Electrical Engineering Technology, Electronics Technology and Instrumentation programs.
Additionally, the tracker system will produce up to 27,500 kilowatt hours of energy per year, offsetting NRCC's electrical use and reducing the college's carbon footprint. The combination of the tracker system and other equipment is also estimated to result in nine to ten percent of the power for Edwards Hall being generated on campus.