Student groups install Northwestern's first solar panel system

    Engineers for a Sustainable World and the Northwestern Sustainability Fund worked together for two years to build the Centennial Solar Panel System, Northwestern’s first source of onsite renewable energy. The system takes up most of the usable roof space on Ford Motor Company Engineering Design Center and will be connected to the building’s electric grid soon, according to a university press release.

    The 16.8-kilowatt array should generate roughly 20,000 kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, said program manager Anthony Valente, a Weinberg senior and NSF president and co-founder. That is enough power to account for about 2.5 percent of Ford’s energy use.

    Valente added that ESW has a long-term plan to have the campus operate only from renewable energy, starting with small steps. For example, ESW is working with facilities management to install a small wind turbine on campus.

    Together, ESW and NSF raised $117,000 for the project, with over $65,000 coming from a grant from the Illinois Clean Energy Community Foundation. The student groups’ own capital, a donation from an alumnus and donations from other Northwestern groups and departments account for the rest of the money, Valente said.

    “This was a really collaborative project,” he said. “We utilized so many different sources on campus for both insight and monetary donations. It’s just really a stepping stone for the future of Northwestern in terms of being green and using renewable energy.”


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