Engineers and students of the School of Science and Engineering celebrated the completion of the Resnick Roof Solar Panel Project on Feb. 22. In the two weeks that this system has been up and running, it generated over 170 kilowatts of energy.
It is estimated that in one year the system will help the college save $1,000 in energy costs and carbon dioxide emissions will be reduced by 6,000 kilograms. In two weeks, over 170 kilowatts of energy has already been generated.
Donald Christian, president of SUNY New Paltz, praised everyone involved: including the two main people who developed and designed the project, Mike Otis and alumni Courtney Lia. Christian said the efforts of the project members “are actions worthy of celebration.”
“Environmental sustainability is a key value on our campus,” Christian said.
The Solar Panel Project was a collaboration between SUNY New Paltz and The Solar Energy Consortium (TSEC). The New York State Energy Research & Development Authority and State Sen. John Bonacic granted TSEC $60,000 to enable the project.
Daniel Freedman, the interim engineering dean at SUNY New Paltz, first explored solar energy when he was in 8th grade. With the help of a friend, Freedman made a two-foot long trough, lined with aluminum foil, filled it with water, and put a copper pipe through it. They thought steam would come out, when in reality the temperature had risen only about a half a degree.
“The idea of getting energy from the sun is cool,” Freedman said.
SUNY New Paltz engineering lecturer Michael Otis, a designer of the system, said the vision for this project was to put something practical in place for engineering students working to understand solar energy.
“Making a conversion from photons to electrons is a beautiful thing,” he said.
Chelsea Pontrello, a first-year electrical engineering student, was one of the seven students involved in this solar panel project. Pontrello said she found out about the project from Otis, her teacher, during class. Pontrello thought it was interesting and wanted to get involved.
“The solar panels benefit campus by reducing its carbon foot print and also saves money,” Pontrello said. “It also gives kids a hands-on role, which is good for them.”
According to Pontrello, people should want to get more involved because it is estimated that fossil fuels will dwindle critically in as little as 40 years.
“Which,” she added, “will leave us all screwed.”
Krista Barringer, a representative from Bonacic’s office, said this project could put New Paltz on the map, technologically speaking, because it has been a win-win project.
A renewable energy course will be available in the coming semesters to make more students aware of how important the conservation of energy is.