Green Shoots: Baylor solar array saves money and teaches students

Green Shoots: Baylor solar array saves money and teaches students

April 6th, 2012 by Carey O'Neil in Business Around the Region

Brody Wallin with Lawson Electric shovels gravel onto a path between newly installed solar panels Thursday at Baylor School. The 858 module solar array is capable of generating 260,680 kilowatt-hours yearly, which is enough energy to power an estimated 50 homes.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

What: A nearly 200 kilowatt solar power system

Who: Baylor School

Location: 171 Baylor School Road

Age: The array started generating power two weeks ago

Energy savings: The 858-module array will generate more than 260,000 kilowatt-hours a year, enough to supply about 50 average homes with all the power needed. With tax credits and TVA Generation Partners assistance, the panels will pay for themselves through energy savings within 10 years, according to Larry Roberts, the school's sustainability coordinator. They are expected to last at least 25 years.

Educational benefits: The array will be used as a real-life laboratory setting for Baylor's students. Overcoming the disconnect between textbook learning and the real world can be difficult, Roberts said. "For a lot of these kids, it's better to be able to see it, feel it, touch it," he said.

Future plans: Roberts hopes that the solar panels will be the first of many that will benefit the school, community and environment and teach the realities of sustainable energy. "We need to educate people that these are real," he said. "It's not just smoke and mirrors."