Solar trailer spurs sustainability efforts at UofSC

The Office of Sustainability along with mechanical engineering students worked together to create a sustainable solution for providing power to events at UofSC.

The solar trailer is a converted, movable trailer that is able to store energy from the sun and power electrical equipment. Director of the Office of Sustainability Larry Cook oversaw the student-run project and helped create the final product. 

“The idea that a solar generator could supply power to green-certified events came into the picture when we started developing a relationship with the professors who teach this senior design class,” Cook says, “We proposed the project, and the office put in extra funding to make it come together.” 

Before the idea of the solar trailer was created, the same solar panels were used for a different project. A mobile “lounge bus” originally used them, although the idea did not pan out, and the panels were waiting to be repurposed. The trailer itself had a previous life as well, where it was being used to house and distribute recycling bags at Williams-Brice Stadium. These materials in storage and the solar trailer idea came together, and the students began to create it.

The solar panels on the trailer fold out to receive energy from the sun, which is then stored in a 4.8-kilowatt battery system. It takes up to 10 hours to fully charge, and depending on what equipment is being powered, the charge lasts a long time. A full-sized refrigerator can be powered for around 87 hours. 

The solar trailer is intended to be used for university-sponsored events, and the Office of Sustainability is testing its capacity.

“The Russell House has really engaged with us in not only improving the sustainability of existing events by adding the solar powered aspect to it,” Cook says, “but also maybe creating new events in places we never could before because they didn't have access to the power they needed to run it.”