Phi Theta Kappa members Michelle Huang, Michael Wong, and Gracia Trejo presented their study of solar feasibility to the Capital Improvement Project management and Skyline College President, Dr. Regina Stanback Stroud. With the increasingly serious problems of environmental pollution and limited fossil fuels, the use of solar energy provides a sustainable solution. As a higher education institution, Skyline College is committed to achieving a sustainable community.

The Phi Theta Kappa (PTK) students assessed the feasibility of solar power generation (PV) on the Skyline College campus. As a successful case of using photovoltaic power generation to offset 100% of college electricity cost, Butte College, located in Northern California, generates over 6.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity per year and estimates that it will save up to $100 million over 30 years using 25,000 solar panels. PTK students studied the mean daily insolation, historical weather, and sky conditions of Skyline College using data from a NASA simulation and weather history. Despite 77 foggy days a year, the Earth’s insolation at Skyline College is double the global mean and slightly higher than at Butte College. Solar-electricity generation is feasible at Skyline College and will contribute to achieving the sustainability goals with a huge reduction of greenhouse gas emissions.

The presentation has changed the viewpoint of at least one manager who thought that Skyline College is too foggy. After hearing the research findings, he realized that Skyline College is not too foggy. Furthermore, the idea that PV panels will not work was addressed in the research. PV panels are much more efficient in cooler temperatures than in hot areas, which makes Skyline College a perfect place to use PV power generation in effort to achieve its sustainability goals.

Article by Dr. Christine Case

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