Cal State L.A.

Solar panels power up, supplying energy for CSULA’s Engineering & Technology building

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Courtesy of Courtesy of Cal State L.A.

Los Angeles, CA – Cal State L.A. technology students, involved with the University’s Power, Energy and Transportation Lab, are beaming as the sun continues to shine brightly. They are thrilled to observe their solar panel project at work after years of planning and development.

On July 27, Cal State L.A. activated a new photovoltaic (PV) system of 77 solar panels installed on campus, collecting the sun’s power and actively converting that energy to electricity to offset the energy consumption of CSULA’s Engineering and Technology building where the solar panels are mounted.

“I am very excited to be part of this revolutionary project, which changes the way of providing energy through a system that is more friendly to the environment,” said CSULA’s electrical and computer engineering major Marilyn Contreras. “Now that this project is finally completed, I am very proud to say I was part of this process of change. Before working on this project, I had no idea of how solar panels work, much less how to do the installations, and now, I can say I am an expert working with solar panels.”

The solar PV system is composed of two types of modules: a large, 56-Sharp-panel and a smaller 21-Solec-panel subsystem. The installation is wired with three invertors that convert DC power of the solar panels into three-phase AC power of the building. Some of the solar power is used for lab experiments and research. The Hydrogen Super Eagle, a fuel-cell vehicle built by CSULA students, is powered by hydrogen that is produced with the sun’s energy.

“Reducing our carbon footprint, the system generates about 40 kilowatts (kWh) of renewable energy daily during the summer, which is estimated to produce about 12,000 kWh of electricity annually,” said Professor David Blekhman, the director of the Power, Energy and Transportation program at CSULA. “This installation paves the way to more systems like that on campus. There are many untapped roofs on campus and about 15-20 percent of our energy could come from the sun.”

For real-time data regarding the solar energy generated by the project:

The solar panel project—funded by the U.S. Department of Energy, Southern California Edison, Honda, CSULA Center for Energy and Sustainability, and the CSULA College of Engineering, Computer Science, and Technology—reflects the College’s commitment to sustainability research and education by providing students hands-on training and real-world experience in alternative energy, power and transportation.

Building on its reputation as a leader in “green” technology, CSULA was most recently recognized by the Hydrogen Education Foundation for its efforts in the field with a top-10 finish in an international hydrogen student design contest. CSULA was also selected to build a zero-emissions vehicle for the “EcoCar2 Plugging In to the Future” international competition. Additionally, CSULA recently installed two new electric vehicle charging stations in Lot 10 to help improve air quality by offering an alternative fuel source as well as to serve as an educational tool in clean transportation classes and research.

For more about the Power, Energy and Transportation Lab at CSULA:

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