Environmental Leadership Center
Warren Wilson College
Campus Box 6323
P.O. Box 9000
Asheville, NC 28815-9000
Please refer comments or questions about this website to Ellen Querin.
What It Is:
Photovoltaic cells work to convert sunlight directly into electricity and is often what is meant when one refers to solar energy. As opposed to passive solar energy this may be thought of as active solar energy. Both passive and active can work together and indeed often do. They are not, however, the same thing. Photovotaic cells are assembled into modules that are in turn assembled into arrays. As light energy strikes the solar cell electrons are knocked loose from the atoms in the cell material. The electrons can then be captured in the form of an electrical current thus generating electricity.
Why We Do It:
By using solar energy Warren Wilson College is making use of the oldest form of energy available: the sun. This reduces reliance on fossil fuels, therefore limiting our greenhouse gas emissions, our contribution to the destructive practices used in obtaining coal and oil, and our dependence on an external energy source.
How We Do It:
Behind the EcoDorm residency there are is an array composed of three modules. The energy produced from this array is used to heat the hot water used by residents as well as by the geothermal heating system (link).
In addition, there are photovoltaic cells that line the awnings above first floor windows. The energy generated by these panels contributes a small amount of energy back to the grid.
A third location for photovoltaic cells on campus is at the Facilities Maintenance and Technical Services building. The energy generated here is used to power the golf carts that transport work crews around campus.
How You Can Do It:
In considering photovoltaics you really need to have a professional evaluation by someone in your area.