A 1.5 kw solar power structure somewhat resembling a tree has been unveiled on the Centennial campus at North Carolina State University. The structure is about 16 feet tall and was funded by students to raise awareness about solar technology and sustainability.
Money for the project came from the NC State Sustainability Fund and NC State’s Park Scholarship students who assisted with fundraising. (These students are known for having accomplishments or potential in leadership, service and character.)
The solar power structure was created by Spotlight Solar, a company that builds solar installations to be both visible and beautiful.
“Most roof-top solar installations are hidden from view. Our goal is to put solar at the forefront, where everyone can see it and experience the benefits of clean energy first-hand,” stated Craig Merrigan, Spotlight Solar’s co-founder and CEO.
Of course, locating it on a very large public university campus is quite sensible. The total enrollment is about 34,000, including graduate and undergraduate students, so many students, staff, faculty and visitors will see the ‘solar tree.’
Young adults are typically open-minded about new ideas, so they may be more receptive than some other segments of the population. The fact that the students helped raise the funds to purchase the solar power technology seems to confirm this openness.
“This is a student gift to the University that is designed to drive everyday awareness of the University’s commitment to clean energy. Our ultimate hope is that the solar tree brings visibility to solar energy and solar education,” explained Nathan Pedder, a Park scholar who contributed to the project.
The NC State Centennial campus is also the site of research related to creating a “green grid” that can more efficiently distribute electricity and integrate renewable, clean forms. Additionally, a solar center is located there, so adding a “solar tree” matches the other cleantech work being conducted there.