The Solar Panels at MacLeish

17 Oct
The Bechtel Environmental Classroom at Smith’s Ada and Archibald MacLeish Field Station is an energetically self sustaining building. All energy required to run the building is provided by the 9.4 kW solar array on site. The solar array powers the water heater, the space heater, and the lighting for the building. The U.S. Energy Information Association reports that the average American residential utility customer consumes 10,837 kWh/year. CivicSolar states that a 9.4 kW array generates about 13,600 kWh annually. Therefore this panel could support the average U.S. household. The solar array at the Field Station was designed and installed by the local (PV) solar cooperative. The tilt angle of the array needs to be adjusted monthly to maximize solar radiation. This is because the sun’s position in the sky changes throughout the year. On September 30th we adjusted the solar panels for October, to a tilt angle of 45°.
Working to adjust the solar array for October.
Interested in photovoltaics? Come visit the MacLeish Field Station with CEEDS interns on any Saturday afternoon. Sign up here In addition, the engineering department offers a class in photovoltaic and fuel cell system design that gives a more technical background for these renewable energy systems.

-Emily Dixon ’15

Emily Dixon is majoring in engineering with a minor in landscape studies. She is excited to work at MacLeish as a CEEDS intern. During her first semester at Smith she was introduced to the field station through Paul Wetzel’s lab for BIO 155 Biodiversity, Ecology, and Conservation.

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