Wolfline riders can charge their cellphones while they wait for the bus at N.C. State University’s new solar-powered bus stop.
The bus shelter on Dan Allen Drive near the Witherspoon Student Center is powered by two 160-watt solar panels on the shelter’s roof. Bus riders must bring their own USB charging cables to connect to the system, which stores enough energy to last overnight and during stretches of cloudy weather.
“Solar energy is very cost-efficient and also helps the environment, and we wanted to showcase that,” said Christian Rust, a sophomore at N.C. State who spearheaded the project.
Rust, a chemical and textile engineering major, is a member of the N.C. State Stewards, a group of students supported by the university’s Sustainability Office that promotes sustainable practices on campus. The group hosts workshops and events and also takes on long-term projects.
In 2015, the group installed solar patio umbrellas near Tucker Residence Hall and the James B. Hunt Jr. Library. Students could charge their mobile devices through USB ports on the 9-foot umbrellas, powered by solar panels on the roof.
“We wanted to move on to something even bigger than that,” Rust said. “We chose a bus station because everyone at N.C. State rides the bus and we really wanted to get the idea in front of students.”
The group received a grant for more than $10,800 from the N.C. State Sustainability Fund to support the project.
“I really like this project because it has the potential to be expanded on campus,” said Rebekah Dunstan, program coordinator at the university’s Office of Sustainability who served as a staff adviser for the group. “I’m proud of the students for identifying a need on campus and developing a sustainable solution for it.”
More than 1,200 people each week board the Wolfline, N.C. State’s bus system, at the Dan Allen Drive bus stop, according to the university.
N.C. State Stewards chose the stop for its solar-powered project because of how many people use the stop and also the access to sunlight.
The biggest challenge was finding a manufacturer that could meet the project requirements, since the group wanted to use an existing bus stop instead of building a new one, Dunstan said.
The bus shelter was installed over spring break in March. So far, people have been enthusiastic about the project, which will serve as a pilot for other bus stops, Rust said.
The group still has some money from the grant and hopes to install a system to monitor the shelter’s usage.
“We really want to get people excited about solar energy,” Rust said.
Madison Iszler: 919-836-4952; firstname.lastname@example.org