Kenyon will publicly christen its new solar power installation on the roof of the Village Inn restaurant on Monday, May 1, at 2 p.m. The new photovoltaic panels will power the three apartments above the restaurant and are projected to offset 80 percent of the residents' power usage.
Eric Holdener, assistant professor of physics and scientific computing, and students in his “Solar Power Systems: Science, Policy and Practicum” class facilitated this undertaking along with Jerry Kelly ’96. Holdener and Kelly team-teach the course, which is gives students insight into solar power generation and the solar industry while also benefiting the College with renewable energy sources.
“The students have learned about electricity in general and about electricity generation by photovoltaics in particular,” Holdener said. “They should now know the basic chemistry and physics of solar cells and how light striking the face of a cell produces electricity. Besides those topics they have learned about power transmission and the U.S. power grid, and some simple wiring concepts.”
This is the team’s second installation of solar energy systems at Kenyon. Holdener and Kelly first worked with students to install solar panels in fall 2015 at the Kenyon Farm. They began team-teaching their course as a special topic in January 2016, and it is now offered once every academic year.
Kelly has worked in the solar industry since 2010. He worked at Third Sun Solar for four years, and the company has also been involved in the installations. “Our students evaluated five campus sites for solar last year, and the College selected the VI as our next project,” Kelly said. “This semester's students are evaluating sites for next year's project — perhaps the new Village Market building, or the bookstore roof.” The installation at the Village Inn cost $34,000.
The ultimate goal is for students in the course to install about a dozen solar energy systems over the next five to eight years, ushering in a new generation of clean energy for the College. “Our students will be prepared with in-depth knowledge and experience to compete well for solar industry jobs, should they choose to start their careers there,” Kelly said.
—Elana Spivack ’17