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SSF Electric Vehicles and Solar Panels Analysis

Posted by Morgan White on May 12, 2014

The goal of this project was to assess the success of the electric vehicles and solar panels on the Student Sustainable Farm (SSF). In 2010, through Engineering 298, the farm received a 1960 Allis-Challmers G Cultivating tractor that has been retrofitted to contain an electric powered motor. The following year, the same course began a new project to install 8 PV cell solar panels and charging station to service the SSF’s tractor. In 2012, a new course, Engineering 315, proposed and developed a project that would give the farm a delivery truck powered by an electric motor and a set of 24 PV solar panels and charging station to supply enough electricity for the truck’s daily use. As of now, all projects have been installed and are currently being used on the SSF except for the delivery truck, which has taken longer to construct than previously thought. The goal for all three projects is to offset the farm’s fuel costs and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. While these projects have been funded and constructed with the intent they will make significant reductions to the farms energy cost and reduce emissions, they have not been appropriately assessed after implementation to measure if these goals have truly been achieved. With the help of Zack Grant, the SSF manager, the expertise of my professors, and extensive research, I have developed measures reflecting the performance of these projects and the impact they’ve had. I’ve measured water savings, carbon savings, and cost savings in order to express how the Student Sustainability Committee’s (SSC) money has been spent. With this information, I hope to provide honest feedback to the SSC so they can maximize their investments and provide our campus with projects producing the greatest energy savings for the cost. My intent for this paper is to teach people what sustainable really is, not to suggest that this or any other SSC funded projects are bad. I truly believe the work of the SSC is essential to our campus for guiding our students to become stewards of sustainability.