NJIT taps into solar energy to power new campus center

New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) is saving money and energy while also protecting the environment.

The university has installed a 50-kilowatt solar-powered system on the roof of its new campus center. An array of 160 solar panels carpets the roof, converting sunlight into electrical currents.

The panels provide power for the campus center and save the university $40,000 a year in electrical bills. NJIT also received a $215,000 rebate from the N.J. Board of Public Utilities to offset the cost of installing the system.

The solar-powered system prevents 100,000 pounds of carbon dioxide a year from being released into the air. That's how much carbon dioxide would issue from a coal-burning power plant had NJIT not installed the panels. The panels also prevent the release of nitrogen oxide and mercury, two other byproducts of a coal-burning power plant.

"NJIT's solar-unit is the most advanced in the state," said Leon Baptiste, the engineer who installed the system. Baptiste, president of LB Electric, Newark, received an electrical engineering degree in 1991 from NJIT. He also participated in NJIT's Educational Opportunity Program (EOP), which helps minority students earn technological degrees and become engineers. Baptiste is educational chairman of the Metropolitan Electrical League, Long Valley, a non-profit group comprised of some 300 electrical companies. The League offers co-ops and scholarships to NJIT students who study electrical engineering or telecommunications.

Baptiste, of Roxbury, mounted 144 of the framed panels onto the roof. He added 16 upright solar trackers, which rotate in line with the path of the sun to absorb maximum sunlight. The panels, framed with aluminum and stainless steel, can withstand the sun's ultraviolet (UV) radiation. The solar panels, which have a 25-year warranty from distributor TurtlEnergy, Linden, also protect the roof from the ravages of weather and UV radiation.


Contact: Robert Florida
New Jersey Institute of Technology

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