The sun will be energizing more than solar panels at the Advanced Technology Center at Gulf Coast State College. Gulf Power Company is donating a solar photovoltaic system so that students can put renewable energy research to work.
The solar PV system will be installed on a parking canopy at the Advanced Technology Center to assist research in electric vehicle charging. It is the seventh solar PV project funded through Gulf Power’s commitment to Solar for Schools since it founded the program in 2000.
Gulf Power’s Solar for Schools program provides the full cost of a solar PV installation up to 10 kilowatts for at least one qualifying school annually. The company’s renewable energy experts also assist the school with curriculum to use with the data gathered from the solar PV system.
So far, additional systems have been installed at Washington-Holmes Technical Center in Chipley, West Florida High School in Pensacola, Global Learning Academy in Pensacola, Meigs Middle School in Shalimar and the Junior Museum and Bay High School in Panama City.
“Our Solar for Schools program is a partnership with schools that are committed to science and engineering education and to inspire our future workforce,” said Natalie Smith, Gulf Power spokesperson. “These partnerships will help students learn more about this valuable resource and we hope it will inspire them to become the engineers and technicians of the future.”
To qualify for Solar for Schools, the school must be served by Gulf Power and demonstrate a commitment to energy efficiency and renewable energy education. The school also must commit to maintaining and operating the system.
Gulf Coast State College and the State of Florida invested $35 million to develop the Advanced Technology Center, a 93,000-square-foot facility geared toward innovation and sustainable economic growth. Designed as a LEED Gold-certified facility, it features a green roof with wind turbines and energy and water conservation features. The school intends to use the facility to enhance partnerships with the business community and accelerate economic growth, said Dr. Stephen Dunnivant, Interim Dean at the Gulf Coast State College ATC.
“We did not want to open the Advanced Technology Center without having Gulf Power as a visible partner. The Solar for Schools program offered by Gulf Power represents the very best in emerging partnerships between education and industry,” Dunnivant said. “These partnerships are more vital than ever to student success. With limited funding from state and federal resources it is extremely difficult, and often impossible, to provide students with state-of-the-art technology in their programs. Gulf Coast State College and Gulf Power have joined together in this project, to not only promote alternative energy, but to further blend the roles of education and industry in providing the best workforce for our region and beyond.”