Eastern Michigan University installs solar lighting panels at bus stops

New feature at AAATA stops promotes safety and security while saving energy

YPSILANTI, Mich., March 9, 2018 /PRNewswire/ — Bus riders on the Eastern Michigan University campus will enjoy a new level of lighting at ten public bus stops as a result of installation of solar panels.

EMU’s Physical Plant is installing the panels at the various AAATA (The Ride) bus stops that line the perimeter of campus in order to provide better lighting during the evening hours.

The University has already installed panels at seven locations, and plans three more. The cost of the solar panels is $14,000.

Dieter Otto, director of grounds, custodial services and parking at EMU, says the panels offer improved and more direct lighting around bus stops, creating a more inviting environment at night while preserving EMU’s ongoing goals of being cost efficient and reducing its carbon footprint.

Solar panels use the sunlight as a source of energy to generate electricity. According to Bilal Sarsour, EMU director of facilities, here is how they work:

• The solar panels are actually comprised of small units called photovoltaic (PV) cells that convert sunlight (photons) to electricity (voltage). Each PV cell is basically a sandwich made of two slices of semi-conducting material, usually silicon, that create an electrical charge when exposed to sunlight.

Eastern Michigan University is installing solar panels at community bus stops around campus.

Eastern Michigan University is installing solar panels at community bus stops around campus.

• Solar panels work by allowing photons or particles of light to knock electrons from atoms, generating a flow of electricity. The energy is stored in the battery assemblies, to be utilized at night. Occupancy sensors on the bus stops help use the stored energy efficiently.

The panels complement the University’s continuing sustainability efforts, the most recent of which is the activation in February 2018 of the new energy saving, 55-ton cogeneration system, which will supply approximately 98 percent of the heat and 93 percent of the electricity to Eastern’s 800-acre campus.

Cogeneration is a combined heat and power system that uses one fuel source, in this case natural gas, to simultaneously produce electricity and steam heat.

The panels are the latest addition to a variety of new lighting projects completed in recent years around campus to continue to improve safety and security.

About Eastern Michigan University

Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest university in Michigan. It serves 20,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. For more information, visit the University’s website.

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