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What’s That Thing in Jazzmans? Solar Innovation at SPU.

The first time you had walked into Jazzman’s  this fall, you might have been taken by surprise. The space had grown smaller and perhaps, you had to cram in one of the corners slightly annoyed. But on the other hand you were curious to know – what were those big monitors actually for? It is indeed uncommon to see a transparent room with computers spitting out incomprehensible data unless you are watching sci-fi movies.  But if your university is going green, this is a real possibility. And, fortunately for  Saint Peter’s University – the school is  going green.

The 2011 deal between ENER G, a Manchester- based Company, and then Saint Peter’s College  are finally being noticed. Solar panels have been installed around the campus.

Dayton Beihl, who works under Strategic Development Group, reported, “We have installed three arrays of solar panel in Dineen Hall, one in Pope, one in McDermott and one in Parking Garage.”  This project aims to meet West Campus energy demand with the clean energy, while also casting its net wide enough to include the means for energy conservation. For the energy conservation, ENER G is working on heating and air-conditioning system. New technologies which are more energy efficient are being introduced.

What left many students puzzled in Jazzmans. Photo Credit – Dylan Smith.

The total upfront cost for the project is $6.3 million. However, there is no direct cost for the university. Most part of the project has been funded by ENER G. along with  a major contribution amounting to $1.63 million coming from the New Jersey Clean Energy Program and Federal Tax Credits awards for solar energy. President Cornacchia, in the earlier program “Conversation with President”, had reported, “The energy initiatives around campus will be saving $200,000 a year once it kicks in.”

Looking more closely at solar energy, you’ll find that its rise in popularity coincides with the environmental awareness. The possibility of an environmental catastrophe resulting from the rapid environmental destruction has pushed us to find appropriate measures to meet our energy resources. Ever since there has been increasing emphasis on the use of renewable energy. Renewable energy like solar is believed only help to stop environmental damages, but also to reverse its effect. The installation of solar panel in our university is calculated as being equivalent to the planting 651 acres of pine trees annually.

New solar panels on top of Dineen Hall. Photo Credit – Prajwal Niraula.

Despite all its advantages, there are some factors that might need to be considered.

Dr. WeiDong Zhu, Assistant Professor of Physics in Saint Peter’s University, said, “I am a firm believer in Solar Energy. But do not get me wrong – it is not for everyone.”

When considered without the incentives, solar energy remains one of the most expensive sources for energy. In addition, solar energy alone cannot meet demand for world energy. In the university’s case, the solar production will be assisted by two natural gas generators. (These generators are more efficient than the traditional electric generators, and are therefore considered more environmentally friendly.) And, unlike wind turbines which work all time, a solar panel works only in the presence of the sun. It is a simple equation – no sun equals no energy.

However, times are changing. With the help from government supporting solar programs and visions of energy companies like ENER G, solar energy is becoming an attractive choice. The project undertaken in Saint Peter’s University will be serving as the model for other institution to consider alternative energy more serious. For all the school has received, the space you share with Energy Control Center in Jazzman’s corner appears as a small price to pay for.