On an ironically overcast and drizzly Friday afternoon, Valdosta State University held a ceremony celebrating the installation of a new, 10 kilowatt solar panel canopy.
“We have enormous pressures in terms of resources,” said Michael Noll, VSU professor of geosciences and president of Wiregrass Activists for Clean Energy. “We’re burning fossil fuels at ever-increasing rates and we’re fully, as 97 percent of scientists agree, responsible for global climate change. But in spite of that negative news ... it’s important to recognize that we’re at the beginning of a second solar age.”
Located at the back of Odum Library on campus, the solar panel array will produce 15,000 kilowatt hours of electricity per year. The energy will be going straight to Odum Library and with the average computer using between 75 and 200 watts an hour, the canopy will provide the equivalent of running a decent-sized computer lab. That can seem like a drop in the bucket, especially juxtaposed with VSU’s total energy consumption — 3.76 million
kilowatts of electricity just in December 2012 — but as VSU President Dr. William McKinney acknowledged, this is just a first step.
“This is a great first step ... and I honestly cannot take credit for this first step in sustainability,” said McKinney. “So long as I’m president, I am committed to developing a culture of sustainability on this campus. I do not believe for a moment that environmental sustainability and the long-term economic well being of the university are contradictory goals.”
See Sunday’s Business section for more on this project and regional solar energy.