The students’ of Tech’s Center for Energy Systems Research newest project is what David Gao, electrical engineering assistant professor, said is the biggest solar power system in Tennessee. The Solar Array Power Project is located near the baseball field by the west side Tech Village. “We want to use the solar system for students to do research and learning of solar power,” Gao said.
Gao, who is the project director, and 10 graduate and undergraduate students finished the two-semester-long construction of the solar system before Christmas but are currently awaiting approval from TVA before interconnection can take place and power can be generated. This is expected to happen within the next month. However, research is already underway.
“In the connection process, there is some equipment that is used, so the students will study how this equipment performs.” said Sastry Munukutla, the director of the CESR.
The solar power system has 240 solar panels that will produce 12 kilowatts of power. According to Munukutla, 12 kilowatts is a very small amount of power and can be compared to the amount it would take to power 12 toasters.
“It’s not a tremendous amount of power,” he said, “but it will tell us how to take this power that is produced by the solar energy and how to connect it. That is what we are learning.”
TVA encouraged the Center for Energy Systems Research to begin the project.
TVA donated all 240 panels, amounting to a cost of about $50,000, to the center. In addition, they donated $5,000 cash toward the cost of installation. The rest of the installation funds were supplied by the center and other Tech facilities.