Allerton LINC to Campus
Allerton Park and Retreat Center is very lucky to be working with the Learning in Community Group from the University of Illinois. The following is one of the projects that we are now working on.
By: The students of ENG 315: Learning In Community- Allerton Park
Several University of Illinois students have teamed up with Park Operations to construct an 11,000 Watt solar installation at Allerton Park.
To meet the goals of Learning in Community (LINC) program, to integrate service with classroom instruction, and to enact Allerton Park’s mission “To develop programs in research and education that focus on a comprehensive understanding of nature, landscapes, and sustainable systems” this semester’s ENG 315: Learning in Community class is completing the solar panel installation that was initiated last fall. Ground was officially broken for the project during the last week of September, and Allerton Park expects the solar panels to “go live” by mid-November.
These panels produce energy from what is known as the photovoltaic effect, an effect that produces an electric current once the cells on the panels encounter photons from sunlight. From the moment these panels are uncovered they will begin producing power as long as there is sunlight hitting the face of the cells.
The finished product will be a 60 foot long solar structure, composed of 44 x 250 Watt panels arranged in a 4 by 11 array, located at the Park Operations building. It is projected to reduce Allerton Park’s current spending on fossil fuel power by about 12 percent annually!
Since Allerton Park pays for electricity directly from its own budget, the generation of solar power will free up money for other facets of Allerton Park. Additionally, this project will bring Allerton Park steadily closer to their goal of carbon neutrality by 2035, fulfilling their part in the University of Illinois’s larger Illinois Climate Action Plan, and setting a benchmark for future projects that eventually must reach this goal.
Derek Peterson, Assistant Director of Park Operations at Allerton Park, and his staff of nine, are physically constructing most of the array, while the LINC class will document the challenges faced during the current construction process in order to streamline future, prospective solar panel installations at Allerton Park. Also, once the panels go live, they will analyze the power output with a ‘smart-meter’ and research ways to maximize the panel’s efficiency. In the meantime, they will work on methods to educate the wider community about this project and the advantages of solar technology, such as a carbon footprint that is only 7% when compared to fossil fuel power, according to the Environmental Protection Agency’s website (epa.gov).
Timothy M. Hopper, Project Manager for both the previous and current Allerton Park LINC class, has been working on making this installation possible all year. The steel frames that will support the panels needed to be custom ordered, and the company providing the panels delayed their delivery on three consecutive occasions due to product quality recalls. However, now that the needed materials have arrived, he has been leading the construction process with a sense of urgency.
The investment for this solar project was fully provided by the SSC (Student Sustainability Committee) at the University of Illinois, which is “a student-led organization charged with the distribution of the Sustainable Campus Environment Fee and the Clean Energy Technologies Fee”
November 7th, 2013 by Allerton | Posted in Rediscover Allerton