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Evan finds rays of sunshine with project

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All Evan Farrow wants under his Christmas tree this year is $14,300.

It's for a good cause. The 15-year-old wants the cash to pay for 13 solar panels at his school, Somersfield Academy.

“I still have a ways to go in fundraising,” he said. “When I started in November I had no idea just how challenging this would be, especially since I'm in school.

“The most difficult part is getting everyone together to be working in harmony. I have class and homework. I'm doing things as fast as I can, but getting everything done at the right time is the hardest part.”

He chose the project because he has a passion for building things. As a child he spent countless hours with a huge collection of Lego.

“I was definitely a builder as a kid,” he said. “Now I am very interested in engineering and technology.”

Work shadows at solar panel companies got him intrigued.

“What surprises me about the industry is that the companies all have their own way of doing things,” he said. “I was also very surprised at how little time it took to install ten solar panels. I thought it would take a long time, but once the wiring was installed it took only three days. You really just need to plug them in.”

The teenager decided to make solar energy part of his final project at the Devonshire school.

He started in November with a goal of raising $24,200 to install 32 solar panels at Somersfield.

Alternative Energy Systems (Bermuda) Ltd donated and installed ten. Evan has raised $9,900 — enough for nine more.

He's received a warm response from the Somersfield community.

“Everyone thinks it is a great project and they want to help support the project and make Somersfield and Bermuda a better place,” he said. “One family had each of their children donate some money to the project.”

When the panels are all finally in place they will supply about ten per cent of the school's energy.

“The first year, Somersfield will probably save about $5,400,” he said. “That's not a lot in the grand scheme of things, but it adds up.”

One of his frustrations is the limitations of the solar panel technology itself.

“There is not a lot of downside to solar panels,” he said. “They can last for 25 years and the materials are pretty common.

“The only problem is that one cell does not produce as much electricity as we want. At the most, a solar cell can produce about 15 per cent of the sun's energy hitting it. In the future, that will probably change as the technology improves.”

Bermuda's sunny climate makes it a great place for solar energy, he added.

“The best place for solar panels is probably on the equator as they get the most sunlight in a day. Since Bermuda is above the equator we have to face the panels south because that is where the sun is.”

Evan dreams of a day when all of Bermuda is solar-powered.

“I know quite a few people at the school who have ideas for getting Bermuda fully solar, but it takes a lot of money,” he said. “Maybe when Bermuda's economy improves that will be possible.

“My favourite subjects are maths, science and technology. I could definitely see myself going into solar power as a career.”

•For more information about the project e-mail personalproject@somersfield.bm

Solar energy devotee: Somersfield Academy student Evan Farrow contemplates the future of solar power in Bermuda (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)
Sunny outlook: Evan Farrow wants cash to pay for solar panels at his school (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

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Published December 17, 2015 at 8:00 am (Updated December 16, 2015 at 11:43 pm)

Evan finds rays of sunshine with project

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