Laguna Beach HS Solar Team
Laguna Beach HS Solar Team was written by IEA Founding Member, Paul Noppenberger
Established in September of 2008, the L.B.H.S Solar Club began as a dream by a handful of young students that who were interested in energy efficiency and green technology. One day in chemistry class, this handful of students, including current I.E.A member Paolo Noppenberger, decided that they wanted to try to devise a system that would drastically increase the energy efficiency of the classroom. Taking advantage of the abundance of solar energy in Southern California, the group proposed to their teacher the idea to place solar panels on the roof of the classroom. Mr. Sogo, the chemistry teacher at L.B.H.S, was delighted by the idea, and using his influence with the school, he quickly acquired the necessary funds that would be needed to put the promising plan into action. Thus, the L.B.H.S Solar Club was created, but the problem of figuring out how to actually carry out their idea still remained.
In a simplified description, the entire circuit, that the club created and assembled, works as follows. The solar energy is collected by two large solar panels that rest on the roof of the classroom. Having said this, the main logistical problem was how to actually replace the electrical energy with the harvested solar energy. The solution presented itself in something not as obvious as one may think, a car battery. The energy from the roof flows to a charging station which in turn, fills up the multiple car batteries with energy. One fully charged battery is then placed at every lab station, and the various pieces of lab equipment are powered by the battery. Despite speculation that the process would not work, the energy circuit has been operating smoothly for about three years now. In fact, it has worked so well that, in 2009, the L.B.H.S Solar Team expanded these capabilities to another science classroom as well.
If we fast forward to the present, the circuit continues to operate smoothly. Unless the sun suddenly disappears, it will continue to work and save the school valuable money on its electricity bill. As a result of the success, the Solar Club has expanded from four members to over twenty members. Consequently, the increase in size has also led to an increase in ambitions. Future plans include expanding the solar power capabilities to other classrooms as well as participating in the Solar Cup, which is a competition where high schools from all over Southern California build and race a solar powered boat. However, the most promising expansion made thus far has been with the I.E.A. Working closely with I.E.A founding members: Andrew Hunter, Caroline Walters, and Ariela Osuna, the club now has the perfect platform to launch even bolder plans. With the help of the International Energy Alliance, the L.B.H.S Solar Team strives to not only make an impact in the small town of Laguna Beach, but also in the entire Southern California area as well.