Pioneering in renewable energy: college installs Solar Smartflower


ASHLAND, KY (WOWK) – Rooftop solar panels are a fairly common sight these days, as are solar arrays. Now, a new wave of solar energy products have made their way to eastern Kentucky.

At the Ashland Community and Technical College in Ashland, Kentucky, a new “Solar Smartflower” has been installed on-campus.

ACTC solar photovoltaics instructor Matt Pfau says the addition of this product benefits the college in more ways than one.

It can provide power in emergency situations. Electric vehicle charging stations are becoming more and more each day. They’re coming to the area. So, we can train our students for that upcoming workforce.

Matt Pfau, ACTC solar photovoltaics instructor

The project has been in the works for a little more than a year, however, the installation was fairly quick and operating the Smartflower is just as easy.

Fusion System project manager Mark Welnicki says “there’s not a lot to it from a human perspective.” The Smartflower opens up in the morning, tracks the sun’s movement throughout the day, then closes up and cleans itself at night.

Welnicki says this product is paving the way for renewable energy across the U.S.

Kentucky does have some of the cheapest electrical rates, electricity rates, so it’s a little bit more of a sell. If you have any thoughts of the future, your own future, your kid’s future, their kid’s future, we’ve got to be thinking of things like this.

Mark Welnicki, Fusion System project manager

The Smartflower is only the second of its kind in the bluegrass state. Pfau says this truly is a pioneering project.

The project was funded by a $75,000 AEP and Kentucky Power grant. ACTC is currently looking into purchasing an electric vehicle for education and transportation purposes.

For more information on the Solar Smartflower, click here.

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