MDSE Installs Solar Array in Sierra Leone
Maryland Sustainability Engineering Team
This past July, after a successful assessment trip in early June, a team of six UMCP students along with two mentors travelled to Sierra Leone to install a 1.5 kW Solar Array on the roof of the Abigail D. Butscher Primary School. The school is located in Calaba Town, a small community just outside of Freetown, the capital of Freetown.
The implementation team, which was made up of students Matthew Smith, Amy Palumbo, Kathryn Connelly, Joey Cwik, Sam Feldman, and Maggie Prendergast, along with the mentors Bill Mellema and Bryan Quinn, spent two weeks in Freetown working on installing the solar array. In addition to installing the six 250 watt panels on the roof, the team installed lights in each of the four classrooms, the principal’s office, the bathroom, and also exterior lights which will improve the building’s security. The team also installed wall outlets in each of the classrooms and the principal’s office. This will allow the school’s staff to use computers, printers, and various other small electrical devices. When the initial team arrived for the assessment trip the teachers at the school had expressed the need for computers to help with administrative duties as the school is expanding.
An 800 amp-hour battery array provides the storage for the system. The two charge controllers and three inverters that the team used to charge the batteries were donated by the Morningstar Corporation. With the electrical storage provided the school can go over three days without any power input from the panels, and will be able to provide lighting in evenings for night classes. Now that the team has returned to the University of Maryland they will continue to monitor the system remotely and offer technical assistance if the school’s staff require it.
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