Bringing the use of alternative energy sources close and personal, Triton College now has solar panels installed on one of its buildings.
The 54 panels were installed on the campus’ Cernan Earth and Space Center building with a $54,000 grant from the Illinois Green Economy Network and the Illinois Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity.
The solar panels, which can each produce 250 watts at maximum power, will supplement conventional power in the building.
Gabe Guzman, associate dean of Arts and Sciences at Triton, said in a statement that along with being an alternative power source for the building, the panels will be a teaching tool as well. Since getting the new solar panels, the college is working to develop new academic programs that will complement the new addition.
“While Triton College is making great strides in moving toward a more eco-friendly campus, the main purpose behind installing these solar panels is to provide our students with an experimental, hands-on education on the topic of renewable energy, which is a growing industry,” Guzman said in the statement. “More and more businesses and households are moving in that direction; jobs within that industry are increasing and we want to be able to provide our students with a quality education to get a job within that field.”
He also said that new sources of energy should not be overlooked but embraced.
“The question is not what’s wrong with good old-fashion electricity, but the better question is what is wrong with the ways in which electricity is produced or what is wrong with the old fashion way to produce energy,” Guzman said. “The short answer: not environmentally friendly if it is produced burning fossil fuels. Electricity produced by the photovoltaic conversion of solar energy has no pollution attached and solar energy is free; we don’t have to pay for it.”
The public is welcome to view displays showing the amount of solar energy being collected by the solar panels. A picture of former astronaut Eugene Cernan on the moon, whom the space center is named for, was painted on one of the solar panels.
The goal of the state grant, part of the Renewable Energy, Energy Efficiency and Coal Resources Development Act, is to encourage renewable energy use in the state. The overall goal is to move the state toward using more kinds of alternative renewable energy in the state, which includes using 6 percent solar energy by 2025.