“Solar energy is cost-effective today in many applications in Kentucky,” according to the state Department of Energy Development and Independence, and, while less promising, wind energy might be feasible in “specific sites and applications.”
Margaret Moore, a senior at Elkhorn Crossing School in the Scott County district, is going to test those statements on her own school building.
With some help from friends in the engineering “village” at the career and tech school, Moore built two solar panels and a wind turbine that are scheduled to be installed on the school’s roof this spring. She has helmed the project all year. An energy technology grant from the state education department paid for the equipment, Principal Michelle Nichols said.
“We’re trying to see which one works better, conducts more energy, between the solar panel and the wind turbine,” Moore explained. “Each is connected to a single battery and we’re going to measure the charge on each battery to see which one gets most charged.”
Elkhorn Crossing School senior Margaret Moore sorts through parts for
the two solar panels she constructed for placement on the school roof.
She has been researching what types of energy work best in Kentucky, particularly central Kentucky. “It’s very different between winter and summer here so we’re going to measure overall what would be the best between the two seasons, too. So maybe we can rely on solar panels during the summer and wind turbines in the winter and fall,” she said.
The project has taught her more about energy, particularly solar panels, along with electrical engineering skills like soldering and circuitry. With the roof installation, she has also picked up some structural engineering experience. Once the results are established, Moore said she wants to ramp up the project. “I want to continue with this project as I leave the school, with other students. That’s my main goal.”
Nichols said she’d eventually like to see these energy sources power the school’s entire engineering lab.
Moore, who is University of Kentucky-bound, said she wants to go into chemical engineering to learn more about the chemistry behind energy management, and wants to help solve what she calls “one of our main problems in this generation: Where are we going to get energy in the next 100 years.”