Penn State has developed a strong community interest and passion for solar energy research and development. The students, staff, and faculty, and our surrounding community deserve a path to enable the low-carbon future to grow photovoltaic (PV) installations in the framework of the Living Laboratory. We also wish to create an outreach and educational platform that will allow our community to proceed with a pilot community PV project, called a “solar garden”, retain the best practices learned, and then move forward with enabling prospective solar projects as they evolve in the future.
Funding for Community Solar on State has provide a platform for this and future solar gardens through community and alumni outreach, educational media development online and on site. Our effort builds on the ongoing student initiatives for “Solar on State”. Penn State faculty from prior Solar Decathlons, OPP staff, and engaged student groups including the student chapters of the American Solar Energy Society, NECA, ESW, and the Society of Energy Engineers have been engaged in the Solar on State effort for several years now. The students, faculty, and staff efforts to deploy PV at Penn State and in our supporting communities are being solidified here into a platform to engage the surrounding community, alumni, and regional businesses in creating a community solar approach that is both groundbreaking, educational, and compelling as a standard of excellence for PV project development in the collegiate setting.