Harnessing the Sun's Power

SCORS meets with Prof. Alan Compaan (University of Toledo), a thin film photovoltaics researcher, after his public lecture at W&M on the future of solar power generation. Clockwise, from top left: Charlotte Reeves '10, Patrick Steele '11, William Ames '09, Prof. Alan Compaan, Jeffrey Brown '09, Prof. Irina Novikova, Prof. Seth Aubin, Prof. Eugenyi Mikhailov, Justin Vazquez '10, Trevor Harrison '09, and Douglas Dean '09.The Solar Cells On the Roof of Small (SCORS) committee, a part of the William and Mary Society of Physics Students, is devoted to the creation of a solar power facility on the roof of Small Hall.  The project will demonstrate the viability of harnessing solar energy to supplement campus power as a part of the College of William and Mary’s sustainability initiative.  The group has designed and is constructing a solar cell testing station with funds from COS to measure the electrical performance of different solar cell technologies.  Once the most efficient technology is determined, it will be used as the basis for the final facility which will be integrated into the newly renovated physics building. In addition to providing electrical power, the solar array will also be used to educate the greater university community about the physics and capabilities of photovoltaic power.

Photovoltaic cells that SCORS is testing. From the left: Douglas Dean '09, Scott Watson '09, Jeffrey Brown '09, Charlotte Reeves '10, and Patrick Steele '11.

At present, the group is assembling the test station. It consists of a 167 W multi-crystalline solar panel that charges a battery.  The battery in turn powers a weather station and a data-acquisition computer. The solar powered weather station can be accessed at http://physics.wm.edu/SCORS/index.html. Solar cell technologies under testing include: multi-crystalline silicon, poly-crystalline silicon, amorphous silicon, and thin films. After the completion of this initial phase, and pending additional funding, the project can proceed to the design, construction, and installation of a large scale photo-voltaic array for electricity on the roof of Small Hall.