August 11, 2006

LEWISBURG, Pa. — Ritter House, the new home of the Bucknell Environmental Center, is now being powered in part by a 2.5 kilowatt solar array.

Installation of the solar collection system was completed Friday, Aug. 11, by participants in a week-long solar workshop that's part of the Solar Scholars. The pilot program, the first of its kind in the nation, is sponsored by the Sustainable Energy Fund of Central Eastern Pennsylvania. Bucknell hosted the workshop.

The solar array could provide as much as 24 percent of the power consumed by a typical American household, said an engineer from Pennsylvania-based Mesa Solar. Power not used by Ritter House will be fed into the local electricity grid for consumption by others in the community.

Primer in solar power

Thomas DiStefano, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and faculty advisor, said the workshop provided a solid primer in solar power. "Students take the course and understand the technology and then return to their own campuses to design and install of system of their own," DiStefano said.

In addition to the Bucknell Environmental Center, the Bucknell group will convert one of the Bucknell Village modular units to solar later this fall.

Rex D'Agostino, president of the Sustainable Energy Fund, which provided the 12-panel Ritter House photovoltaic collector to Bucknell in exchange for hosting the workshop, said Bucknell's participants and University staff had done substantial work to make the workshop a success. "We've had a lot of good help from Bucknell," he said.

Energy choices

He said energy choices are becoming more important for society.

"It's critical that those decisions are informed by science and business- and technology-based," D'Agostino said. "That's why Solar Scholars is targeting college students. They are in the best position to make an immediate impact and will drive those important energy policy and technology decisions upon entering the workforce."

Junior Jessica Scott, who helped to organize the workshop and write the initial proposal for Bucknell's inclusion in the pilot program, was pleased with the workshop's success.

Learning

"Getting all these students here from such diverse backgrounds to participate in this project is just incredible," said Scott. "They're all here learning and everyone can take what they learn back to their own campuses."

Bucknell was one of six schools selected in the spring for the pilot program that brought to campus students and faculty from the other five Pennsylvania participants — Clarion University, Mercyhurst College, Messiah College, Pennsylvania State University, and Villanova University.

Also participating this week were students and faculty from Dickinson University, Wilson College, and Allegheny College.

Posted Aug. 11, 2006

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