Cannon School seniors, Avery Olearczyk and Brianna Ratté, both of Huntersville, spearheaded an effort to place a second solar panel on the City of Concord’s electrical grid.
The students worked with more than 50 scientists, engineers, businesspeople, national and local public officials and school administrators to install the panel, which has been producing power since late March, on Cannon’s building.
The project began during the students’ summer internship at the Electric Power Research Institute, a non-profit research organization that studies the generation, delivery and use of electricity to benefit the public. At the organization’s Charlotte offices and laboratories, they learned about the use of renewable energy resources, such as wind and solar power from the institute’s industry researchers, while visiting laboratories and observing cutting-edge green energy technologies, experiments and projects in progress.
The internship led to the students’ decision to do more than just learn about solar energy; they wanted Cannon School to demonstrate the potential of renewable energy sources by serving as a model to other schools and businesses. Together, on March 24, they installed a 200-watt photovoltaic solar panel system at the their school.
The panel comprises a part of the institute’s broader research effort that will serve the purposes of educating Charlotte-area high school students about renewable energy – students can log in to Cannon’s website, www.cannonschool.org, to observe power being produced – and helping the utility industry collect data to better understand the feasibility of using widespread, distributed photovoltaic generation in different regions of the country.
Now the two students have a bigger goal: the installation of a full-scale solar panel unit at Cannon School.
“We’ve been inspired by the support and collaboration that we have experienced,” Avery said. “We feel that our project has been a great start to inspire Cannon School to eventually install a full photovoltaic system.”