Edinburgh College Opens their On Solar Power Meadow
By Leigh Teixeira
Edinburgh College have made use of 5 acres on their Midlothian Campus to build a meadow of solar panels. This is a first for Scotland. The solar panels were designed, built and installed by the energy giant SSE. Overall the cost of constructing and installing the solar panels was £1.2 million.
The solar panels will generate enough energy to keep the Midlothian Campus powered by renewables and thus cut its carbon dioxide emissions by around 300,000KG each year.
The site will also be used as a research facility which focuses on the interactions between solar technology and biodiversity and will analyse how various environmental conditions such as dust, pollen and the weather affect the amount of electricity which is generated by the panels. It is said that the data gleaned from this site should be quite interesting as this solar meadow is one of the most northern sites of its kind throughout Europe. The Edinburgh Napier University will also be assisting with this project and will have a research assistant onsite who will be working closely with students and staff at the Edinburgh College to gather information and evaluate it.
Edinburgh Collegeís engineering students will have the opportunity to broaden their studies as they will be able to use the site as a classroom.
The Vice Principal of Edinburgh College Professor Steve Tinsley will be spearheading this project. He is pleased to be able to witness such a venture take place at the college. By developing this site, it shows how Scotland is putting in a strong effort towards the advancement of innovative engineering and developing new, cleaner technology and thereby achieving an economy which is low carbon. The new Solar Meadow is the very first of its kind in Scotland and is a unique teaching facility and will equip the next generation of engineers with important skills. It will also enable the college to produce its own electricity and thus move away from fossil fuel based electricity.
Professor Tinsley believes that the Meadow looks good and could become a tourist attraction. This project has allowed Edinburgh College to interact with the community and local schools to encourage them to look into developing their own sources of renewable energy. In this sense, they are able to give back to the community.
The Head of Green Deal and Energy Solutions at SSE, Richard Chandler said that it made sense for the company to become involved with this project especially as SSE is the UKís greatest generator of energy from clean, renewable sources.
It is estimated that the Meadow will generate about 560,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year which is enough to power 170 houses. It is also a great example of how the industry and the education system can work hand in hand to create something beneficial to all. The Meadow will benefit the community as well as the college and its students greatly. It will also increase Scotlandís wealth of clean and renewable sources of energy.
A student at the college who is keen on renewable energy is very excited to have such a fantastic project at close hand. Alana, an Electrical Engineering student, has been studying green and renewable technology courses modules within her course and knows how important sustainable energy is in the long run. She believes involving the Solar Meadow in her studies will broaden her knowledge on the subject as well as allow her to learn about modern engineering within the country.
The launching of the Meadow was the high point of the collegeís Engineering Week. It began with an open day which was intended to encourage school goers to pursue careers in engineering.
Edinburgh College also plays host to the new laboratory for MacTaggart Scott. The lab will allow students to also learn about the technology used in tidal and wave energy generation.
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