Centennial Campus Solar Structure

A gift from the university’s Park Scholarships Class of 2015, a 16-foot-tall solar structure builds understanding of clean energy while providing students a place to charge laptops, phones and other electronics. The student-led and mostly student-funded effort complements existing campus solar installations and many other energy efficiency efforts on campus.

In 2016, the Park Scholarships program celebrated its 20th year. Each class of Park Scholars chooses a legacy gift to leave the university, and the Class of 2015 chose to build engagement around sustainability and clean energy with the installation of a visible solar structure. The scholars aim for the solar structure to spark conversation, understanding, and consideration of energy issues as well as be a visual representation of campus sustainability goals.

In their final year as students, the scholars worked with the university’s landscape architect and Centennial Campus Development Office on choosing a location, created a website about the project, initiated a fundraising campaign, and selected local vendors for manufacturing and installation. After graduation, several scholars continued to lead the project until final installation in October 2015. The structure is:

  • Designed by Spotlight Solar and installed by Yes! Solar Solutions, the solar structure is 16’ tall and incorporates six solar panels. These panels will be part of a grid-independent system, including a battery bank, which will provide power for some courtyard lighting as well as power for four 120-volt plugs capable of charging laptops, cellphones and other electronics.
  • The solar structure is expected to connect to a smart grid that’s in development for Centennial Campus.
  • At 1.5kW of energy production, the solar structure  is estimated to generate 2,114 kWh of electricity in year one which will help mitigate an estimated 2,881 pounds of C02 gases, 11.5 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 4.4 pounds of nitrogen oxide. Annually, mitigation of these greenhouse gases represents reducing the emissions of 2,838 car miles and 1,712 pounds of coal burned in utility power plants. It would take planting an estimated 34 trees each year to mitigate this amount of carbon dioxide and greenhouse gases.


Spotlight_Solar_logo_transparent yes solar solutions
NC State Sustainability Fund Division of Academic and Student Affairs NC Clean Energy Technology Center
NC State Student Government UNC System Association for Student Government Centennial Campus