The University of Georgia has several existing solar power initiatives on campus, and the quest for evaluating new ways to be sustainable continues.

Kevin Kirsche, director of sustainability at UGA, said renewable energy projects provide a positive return on investment in addition to valuable teaching and learning at UGA.

“We are preparing leaders who shape the world both today and long into the future,” Kirsche said. “We have a responsibility to lead by example and to inspire.”

Solar power initiatives span across UGA’s campus, from solar-powered charging stations on North Campus to electric vehicles at UGArden.

Solar-powered waste reduction stations

UGA has increased the number of solar-powered waste reduction stations on campus to 70 after recently installing an additional 40.

The solar panels on the bins compress the materials so that more can fit and in turn allow the bins to be emptied less often. The solar panels also provide power for wireless communications.

“Essentially, each bin functions like a cell phone by sending a text to collection staff once the bins need to be emptied,” Kirsche said.

Solar charging station at Herty Field

This is the most recent project the Office of Sustainability has implemented so far. An umbrella on top of a picnic table is made up of solar panels and allows between 75 and 150 devices to be charged per day, even if there are looming clouds.

Kirsche said the charging station is meant to provide opportunities for students and faculty to recharge devices and to work or study outdoors using solar power.

“The solar panels serve as a tangible demonstration of renewable energy,” he said.

UGArden initiatives

UGArden Teaching and Demonstration Farm is a student-run campus and community garden. The project consists of eight solar panels that help to charge a farm building and an electric vehicle at UGArden.

Jackson Street Building solar demonstration project

Installed in 2012, this project is used for further research on renewable solar energy. There are 72 solar panels on the roof of the Jackson Street Building that provide 3 to 5 percent of the power used in the facility.

“The solar panels serve as a teaching tool not only for the campus in general, but for students in the College of Environment and Design who are learning to design the systems and cities of the future,” Kirsche said.

1-Megawatt Solar Tracking Demonstration Project

To be completed by 2016, UGA is partnering with Georgia Power to install a 1-megawatt solar array at the Club Sports Complex.

Kirsche said this will provide a significant opportunity for solar energy research and teaching at UGA.

“This university property will be used to generate electricity from the sun, and the power generated from the solar panels can offset the demand for electricity from conventional sources,” he said.

UGA-Tifton solar initiative

This project entails the generation of up to 3 megawatts of solar electricity generation at the UGA-Tifton campus.

Kirsche said there are still several steps to complete before this becomes a reality.

“There is always more that we can do in the realm of renewable energy efforts,” he said. “But UGA is making significant strides toward researching, teaching and practicing renewable energy technologies that result in cleaner air, improved water resources and a positive return on investments.”