Title: Green Plugs
Project Timeline: 3-4 years
In hopes of decreasing the amount of electricity used by college students and staff, there’s a product that can help use solar energy through outlets. SunPort is a small cube that is plugged into your outlet which later helps you access real solar energy anywhere without having to own solar panels over a roof. On average it costs $25,000-$35,000 to build a 5 kW system. However, this product only costs $80 and it provides a summary of how much energy has been used through any mobile device or computer. Considering the fact that the University of Illinois in Chicago has already taken an initiative to renovate more eco-friendly buildings, the overall cost is about 5 million dollars, and that only considering renovations on five buildings including; Grant Hall, Lincoln Hall, Douglass Hall.
The way this product works is that once the cube is connected to an outlet, the lights on the front light up green, which indicates that it’s routing its energy from a solar source rather than coal, natural gas, or whatever source the local utility uses. The energy used is then transformed into renewable energy certificates (S-RECs) which owners can purchase through their utility companies and later give users solar credit. This product would help increase the demand of solar energy and help decrease the demand or non-renewable resources. Hence, considering it would be extremely costly for a university to fully transform onto solar energy, this low cost product can help reduce the initial amount of energy used.
The way I see this working is by the university offering an agreement with students, that whether they’re dorming or commuting, the students purchase a SunPort and provide the university by the end of each semester (or year) an overview of how much solar energy was used by them. In return, depending on how much energy was saved, the student can receive a small discount from their tuition. Overall, this might not be such a bad idea, but it definitely can be the first step at bringing awareness about cutting off on using nonrenewable resources.
Price: $80 per outlet