Students Build Solar Microgrid

The Office of Sustainability’s Renewable Energy team recently put together a solar-powered mini microgrid for tabling at various university events. After assessing the pros and cons of various market options by taking into account components such as framing, weight, battery capacity, and power output capabilities, the team opted for an 80-watt panel. This module was connected to a 200-watt inverter and a 12 amp-hour battery (with the option of connecting a larger 35 amp-hour battery). Components are kept together nicely  in a custom made transparent box. The system has two USB outputs, an iPhone charger, a micro USB charger, and two standard AC outlets.  

The mini microgrid made its debut during Earth Week in April, where it was used to demonstrate the fun capabilities of solar power firsthand by allowing students to charge their various devices. The Renewable Energy team used posters and other materials to elaborate on different types of solar panels and to share the basic science behind why a solar panel works. Their visuals also communicate the potential and availability of solar power compared to other energy sources and denote the size and location of WashU’s 580 kW of solar installations.

The team had fun creating the mini microgrid and believes it is a great way to share their enthusiasm for renewable energy technologies with their peers!   

Renewable Energy Team members include: Deko Ricketts (left in photo above; class of 2017), Sade Odumuye (right in photo above; class of 2016), and Taylor Blevin (class of 2017).