Whites Creek High School’s Academy of Alternative Energy, Sustainability and Logistics opened its new solar farm April 11, a student-led solar panel project which started in 2015. The project was made possible through grant awards from the Ford Motor Company ($20,000), Piedmont Gas ($10,000), and a donation of 40 solar panels by The Solar Foundation.
Through the support of business partner, Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, the implementation of the solar farm will power machinery in the school’s boiler room saving the district approximately $1,900 per year, according to James Carney, president of Southern Alliance.
Students will work with industry leaders to educate surrounding communities about solar energy and the need to preserve the environment by reducing their carbon footprint.
“I’m excited to see this project come to fruition. Our students had a vision to make alternative sustainable energy a priority,” said Dr. James Bailey, principal of Whites Creek High School. “I’m proud to say this project was student lead in conjunction with Mr. Carney who worked diligently with our students for the past four years.”
In preparation for this project, students had an experiential day with solar industry professionals and site visits to Adventure Science Center, Music City Center and the solar and wind demo site at Love Circle. Solar curriculum was also introduced in the academy program with the learning goals of informing and educating on:
· Solar energy as a resource for addressing energy needs;
· The green economy and the solar energy industry;
· The technical application of building a solar array;
· Measuring awareness and attitude towards careers in the solar energy industry.
Daniel Van Clief, a senior, served as the lead for construction and design of the Whites Creek Solar Array.
“Now that the project has come to fruition, I feel it will make our school a better green space due to the use of alternative solar power,” Van Clief said.
Rachel Rhea, also a senior, worked closely with Van Clief on the project serving as the lead of education and planning.
“Now that the project has been completed, I am excited that my school allowed me to be a part of such a great opportunity,” Rhea said. “My hope is that the solar array will become a major part of the community.”
Solar energy is the most abundant, free and reliable resource available that the planet produces. Whites Creek High School students aim to lead their community in educating and producing solar energy that will help lower operating day-to-day operating cost and provide unlimited reliable energy.