Solar power part of future
RED BAY – The students at Red Bay are now able to learn about the use of solar energy as a replacement for fossil fuels first-hand thanks to new solar panels that were installed at the high school.
Science teacher Steve Wood said that the panels are stored in batteries and are converted into electricity in order to get the students thinking about solar energy usage in homes.
"This is part of a pilot program that is designed to get students thinking about using solar energy instead of using our fossil fuels," Wood said.
A reading from the panels feeds into a computer program that shows the students how much energy is being produced by the sun at any given time.
"The amount of energy depends on a number of different things including cloud coverage," Wood said. "The reading goes up and down depending on the energy the panels are taking in from the sun."
Wood said in future solar panels would be used in conjunction with electricity from the power company to reduce energy costs.
"The way the solar panels will work is that the majority of the energy from the sunshine would be transferred to the power company during the day because there will be excess energy during daytime hours," Wood said. "At night, the power company will supply the energy for the home."
Wood added that the homeowner will be compensated by the power company for energy taken from the solar panels to the power company.
"It'll basically cancel each other out, and the homeowner will have a very small electrical bill if any," Wood said.
Wood said that the equipment was purchased through a grant from the Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC), and Red Bay is the first to receive the grant for the solar panels.
"The estimated cost of the equipment and installation totals $15,000," Gerald Wigginton with the Waste Reduction and Technology Transfer Foundation said.
Wigginton said that other schools are in the process of getting the grant for the equipment, but Red Bay is the only school that has the equipment in place.
Wood said that he would work the solar panels into his lesson plans for next year.