The nearly 10,000 solar panels installed at Loy Farm last spring have not produced any energy, despite the initial projection date of generating power back in May.
According to Robert Buchholz, Elon University’s associate vice president for facilities management and director of Physical Plant, 314 panels still need to be installed, but Duke Energy has been asked to start using the panels that are already set up.
The panels were expected to generate enough energy to power 415 homes, producing about 4,500 total megawatts of electricity.
“There was a delay with the NC Department of Environment and Natural Resources,” Buchholz said.
The panels should start to produce energy within the next couple of weeks.
“The energy will be going into the grid north from the fire station and Mill Point, so some power will go to [Elon],” said Buchholz.
Students have varying opinions about the installation of the panels.
Alyssa Romano, a senior studying biochemistry at Elon, noticed how important the source of energy from the sun is while abroad.
“While studying and working abroad, I remember that I could not take a single long distance train in Germany without seeing massive fields that were hundreds of acres of purely solar panels,” Romano said. “Although it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing landscape, solar energy is crucial in providing electricity for German citizen use.”
Romano added that the Germans support solar energy so much they even have bumper stickers for the movement.
But while some think solar energy is the way to go, other students hold a different viewpoint.
“I don’t know a whole lot about the project, but in my opinion it looks pretty expensive,” said Gisele Nighswander, a junior studying environmental science. “I feel like it would be much more effective to direct our funds towards a bunch of smaller projects, like more compost and recycling containers and starting to replace incandescent lights with LED lights, especially in older buildings.”
No matter what students have to say, the solar panels are here to stay.
Elon has already begun giving tours of the facilities.
According to Buchholz, the tours scheduled for next week are already full, and they have garnered interest from Elon 101 classes, organizations on campus and even an organization in Virginia.
“We will work with anybody who is interested,” Buchholz said. “The main purpose is so people can ask questions, do some research, and find out [more information about the panels].”
There will be a panel 7 p.m. Sept. 22 in Whitley Auditorium discussing how solar energy can be used to fuel Elon’s future energy needs.