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Texas High School Deploys Renewable Energy Thanks to Student Club

Taylor High School (THS) has deployed a renewable energy system that brings together solar and wind power in an effort to reduce costs and teach students about sustainable energy.

Comprising a 33-kilowatt solar installation, a 1-kilowatt wind turbine, and an integrated computer monitoring system, the project was launched after the school's Beginners Learning Alternative Designs for Energy (BLADE) Club won first place in the 2012 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) High School Photovoltaic Design Competition.

The club won the competition by converting by converting a donated 1995 GMC Safari to run on solar power. "The team won," according to an IEEE blog post, "not only for building the solar cells and the energy system, and for netting sponsorships and materials donations, but for teaching the public about solar energy with fun activities like free movies in the park using a projector, DVD player, and amplifier plugged into a weatherproof receptacle — all powered by the BLADE van."

"Leveraging its prize money awarded by IEEE and Heliovolt, BLADE was able to secure $120,000 of funding from The State of Texas for this renewable energy project," according to a news release.

"You can only learn so much from a book," said Jonathan Rose, planning engineer and THS BLADE Club mentor, in a prepared statement. "The IEEE High School Photovoltaic Design Competition motivated us to build the BLADE Solar Van and, in the process, provided an excellent hands-on learning experience. We're excited that the club's Solar Van first-place victory and the funding from IEEE, Heliovolt, and the State of Texas, afforded the school with a broader renewable energy learning source with the school's new solar and wind system, as well as provided a constant source of inspiration to the children that they can make a difference."

"The installation of the school's new renewable energy system and today's ribbon-cutting ceremony represent an exciting time at Taylor High School," said Danny Ward, THS principal, in a prepared statement. "In addition to offsetting the school's energy costs, the new system provides students the opportunity to learn about renewable energy from an active system."

About the Author

Joshua Bolkan is contributing editor for Campus Technology, THE Journal and STEAM Universe. He can be reached at [email protected].