Solar Power Systems: Science, Policy and Practicum
Photovoltaic power generation is proving to be a viable renewable alternative to fossil fuels, and Kenyon College is embarking on a multi-year plan to install PV systems on several buildings across campus. This course is uniquely situated to take advantage of this endeavor. We will discuss the role energy serves in society and examine the basic physics of energy in general before discussing and comparing traditional fossil fuels versus alternatives. Focusing our attention on PV electrical energy, a series of hands-on lab exercises will explore the science of electricity, PV power generation and linking such systems to the grid. Determining potential locations for installing Kenyon's growing network of solar power systems will be addressed via a combination of spatial analysis exercises and on-site visits to past and future installation sites. Additional field trips to local residential and commercial agricultural PV systems and conversations with their owners will augment these efforts. Through conversations with leaders of Kenyon's campus efforts and online virtual meetings with leaders in the industry at the state, regional and national levels, we will learn the ins and outs of designing, planning, installing and financing PV systems from the perspectives of buyers, sellers and investors. During semesters when an installation is in process, we will be directly involved in site evaluations and will closely follow along with the design and construction of the system. During these times, students will help plan and will host a public flip-the-switch event at system sites when these new systems are commissioned and are officially energized and connected to the grid. This counts toward the additional skills major requirement. No prerequisite. Offered every year.