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Solar & The Future Generation

By Mark Cerasuolo, Marketing Director, OutBack Power

Since the days when Edison and Tesla were arguing over the best way to deliver it, electricity has been at the center of all economic and life-quality progress made during the past century. Ensuring that supply can continue to meet electrical demand in the next one will depend on conservation where practical and new technologies and sources—particularly renewable energy sources—where feasible. Learning both energy conservation and innovation can be a challenge for adults. Just look at the angst caused by the move to replace grotesquely inefficient incandescent light bulbs—a device essentially unchanged since Thomas Edison invented it—with far more efficient CFL’s and LED types.

Camp Kernow 1aThis is the concept behind Camp Kernow, a UK-based not-for-profit children’s camp which teaches energy conservation and sustainability. Beginning at age 7, Camp Kernow campers are fully immersed in an environment that uses renewable energy and promotes energy conservation.

Situated in the fuel-poor Cornish countryside, the camp is run completely on solar power. The solar electricity system is responsible for powering everything from computers in the office, to lighting throughout the camp, to pumping and treating drinking water.

The camp’s founders designed the organization for sustainability from its first day of operation and worked with local Cornwall integrator CleanEarth Energy to configure an off-grid solar system using an OutBack Power inverter/charger and charge controller.

OutBack Power’s maximum power point tracking (MPPT) technology was particularly important for this application, since the hours of sunlight in the high-latitude U.K. are seasonally limited.

With the camp’s water supply derived from a solar powered borehole system, it was critical that the system be able to maximize solar harvesting to ensure both continuous power and drinking water.

Since deploying its OutBack Power system, Camp Kernow has successfully established its program to operate off the utility grid. As a result, it has drastically reduced its carbon footprint. In its first six months off-grid, the organization generated 63.1 kilowatts of solar power that otherwise would have come from non-renewable sources. The camp also earns UK government payments for the energy it generates off the utility grid, which helps fund camp operations.

In addition, being off-grid allows the camp to teach children about electricity conservation. Camp Kernow’s solar system is paired with battery-based electricity storage to collect excess solar-generated electricity for use when the sun is not available. However, the battery can store only a finite amount of power so once it’s been depleted, there is no back-up electricity source as there is no grid connection.

Camp Kernow 1b

While some may view this as the downside to an off-grid system, Camp Kernow uses this electrical reality to teach the children to be mindful of their electricity and be careful about how they “spend” their availability energy—literally “waste not, want not” updated for the next century.

Camp founders are hard at work adding a secondary solar electricity system as well as a mobile system using MPPT, which will provide an opportunity to train children on the process of aligning solar panels as part of their camp experience.

With its off-grid renewable energy environment defining an immersive curriculum, Camp Kernow is successfully demonstrating the reliability of solar power to children while encouraging a new generation to support a sustainable future.

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