Classroom Solar Project
Earthshine Nature Programs and Trails Science have been working very hard over the last several years to develop an environmental education classroom and wildlife rehabilitation facility that is 100% powered by clean, renewable energy! Our goal with this wonderful, forward-thinking, nonprofit student project is to drastically reduce our carbon footprint and eventually remove our dependence on fossil fuels by taking advantage of the most available renewable energy resource in our little corner of the galaxy – THE SUN!
Phase Two: The second phase of our classroom solar project was completed in July of 2019 and consists of an additional 14.4 kilowatts of photovoltaic solar modules bringing our total potential output to 19.2 kWh! As of July 04, 2019 - the day our entire solar array went online full time (our Energy Independence Day) - our nature center classroom/ENP office is fully powered by clean, renewable, locally-harvested solar energy! In fact, our classroom array produces on average 3-4 times more energy than we need, therefore, it does not only supply our classroom with renewably generated solar power but it also charges the battery of the ENP outreach EV - a 2019 Chevrolet Bolt EV - AND it provides clean power for, and lowers the carbon footprints of, many other buildings on the campus of Trails Momentum!
Phase One: Our solar array began construction in the fall of 2015 and in January of 2016 Phase One was complete. It consisted of a 4.8-kilowatt photovoltaic solar array that offset around 1/2 of our energy use.
It is also a bold teaching tool for the students and visitors of our classroom, the participants of our outreach programming, and our online visitors. It offers our students a myriad of learning opportunities in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education, project-based learning initiatives, environmental education, and energy conservation practices and experiences. It also provides a unique web interface technology that allows the system to be monitored in real-time by our students in class on our campus and anyone from anywhere on the planet via this website - see the page "Solar Array Live Feed" and see how much power we have made today, yesterday and since day one!
Phase Three: After the primary array was completed in 2019 we began the planning and fundraising stages for the third and final phase of this amazing project. Phase Three will consist of a plug-and-play battery storage system that will store much of the excess power generated by the array. This energy will then be used at night to keep the building's systems running using stored solar energy as well as acting as a backup power supply during periods of power outages that are frequent in our remote, wilderness location. To make Phase Three happen we need your support. If you would like to help us make this happen for our classroom and our students and our shared environment, please visit our donation page.
It is clear that our dependence on fossil fuels is getting us into hot water with climate change, local and international resources, land rights, human rights, political and international issues. The consensus among the majority of the world's scientists and forward thinkers is that it is time to begin the phase-out of fossil fuel-powered energy and transportation sources and time to ramp up the adoption of renewable energy and electric vehicle technologies to power and to move our society - on top of all this science is the simple fact is that common sense says that if you have the technology to make your own energy for your home and fuel for your vehicle then you should make it so.
By installing this one-of-a-kind solar power station in our classroom, our students and visitors have and continue to benefit greatly from the applied use of renewable energy technologies in class by experiencing the first-hand functioning of real-world, renewable energy applications such as solar-electric power, and electric vehicles.
In our unique solar-powered science and nature center classroom, our students learn the facts. They bust through the negative myths often associated with renewable energy and electric vehicles by studying them up close and firsthand, and by assisting with the maintenance of, fully-functioning solar and EV technologies in class. After leaving, our graduates will be more up-to-date, connected, and ready to accept the reality of, and make use of, sustainable, clean energy and transportation systems to power and drive their lives and their futures.
Students cleaning the 600-watt student-built solar array constructed as a pilot project in 2014.
The Earthshine Nature Programs/Trails Science Classroom Solar Array was funded with monetary, technological, and supply donations from many local individuals and organizations and constructed by ENP Executive Director Steve O'Neil, his ENP interns and volunteers, and his Trails Science students. The array is owned and maintained solely by ENP on the property of Trails Carolina/Momentum where it benefits the STEM education of their students.