Solar Savings Generate Scholarship Funding

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Scholarship money for Florida Atlantic University students is coming from a new source: the sun.

The university recently installed more than 230 photovoltaic panels on the roof of the Higher Education Complex building to produce 50,000 watts of energy that will save 20 percent to 25 percent in energy expenses.

With the money saved, the university has started the Sun Fund Scholarship, the first scholarship program in the U.S. to use cash harvested from solar energy, according to government officials.

FAU will give out one scholarship each year to a graduate student in the university’s School of Urban and Regional Planning. Gov. Charlie Crist praised the project at an unveiling ceremony.

“Florida’s universities are taking a leadership role in the state’s efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and increase the use of renewable energy technologies,” Crist says. “The research done on campuses like FAU not only prepares our future workforce, but it also fosters advances that will lead to more green jobs.”

Funded by a private donation, school funds, Florida Power & Light and the state’s solar rebate program, the $250,000 project atop the 12-story building was conceived by two graduate students in the School of Urban and Regional Planning.