UWI first university outside the US to get EBSCO solar grant

Monday, August 06, 2018

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THE University of the West Indies (UWI), Mona library was recently awarded an EBSCO solar grant of US$100,000 to implement a solar photovoltaic system on the roofs of the Science & Engineering Branch Library (SEBL) and the physics lab.

The library is the first winner of the EBSCO solar grant outside the US.

The grant is an annual programme that funds USD$100,000 solar installations on library campuses to offset electricity costs with clean, renewable solar energy. The programme looks to help libraries show their communities the benefits of environmental responsibility, while being a part of the company's larger effort and dedication to reducing their environmental footprint.

“We are pleased to be the recipient of this grant. The library sees this initiative as advancing the university's energy management programme, which is one of the agility goals of the UWI Triple A Strategy for 2017-2022,” said Dr Paulette Kerr, campus librarian.

The proposal was developed and submitted as a collaborative project between Dr Sasekea Harris and Kevin Atkinson of the Mona library; and Stanley Smellie of the Energy Management Unit, Mona School of Engineering. The Department of Physics was listed as a project partner.

Smellie, who presented the EBSCO solar project visual plan at the formal grant receipt ceremony, said the solar panel installation will take four weeks and upon completion, the project will save The UWI almost $2m annually.

Overall the project will cost US$95,400. The remainder of the funds, he shared, will be directed to local public education about the project and what the university is doing to advance the use of solar energy and reducing the use of brown power.

Speaking at the event, Damien Satterthwaite, regional sales manager, Caribbean EBSCO Information Services, said The UWI, Mona is the first international winner.

“We received 78 applications from all over the world, and the judges looked at six different factors including whether the applications demonstrated a real need, the timeliness of the project and community participation.

“EBSCO is proud to be a green company making decisions designed to reduce our environmental footprint. EBSCO is proud to be a company that helps the environment and libraries that are interested in going green. Our first winner was the Austin Community College in Texas; in 2017, we were able to add a second grant and expand the possible applicants to libraries around the world.”

In 2018, EBSCO expanded their solar programme to give three such grants, The UWI being one of them.

“We were impressed with The UWI, Mona's dedication to help this beautiful campus stay green. This initiative is one of the library's many projects to improve infrastructure and energy efficiency; we look forward to seeing the panels go up and to see the difference they make on this great campus.”

The solar panels will be installed on the roofs of the Science & Engineering Branch Library and the Physics Lab. According to Smellie, “The system will not use batteries. It will feed directly into the power distribution system of the libraries. What that means is that in very short order the energy consumption of the library will be reduced and the university should start seeing savings.”

The system, Smellie said, was designed for easy access by students and staff.

“It is not just about maximising the savings and getting power out. We are trying to create a live learning environment for students to view the system, to see the wirings, to see all the components, know how they work, and how the different parts impact the performance of the system,” he said.

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