Skip to main content

Students and Faculty Tackle Solar Project

Students and Faculty Tackle Solar Project

As a company, BP has a strong commitment to being involved in the communities in which it or its affiliates operate. In conjunction with Atlantic Richfield's remediation project, BP has partnered with a number of community organizations on key projects.

Students and faculty of Alfred State College are working closely with Atlantic Richfield (AR), a BP-affiliated company, to design and install a solar-powered telemetry system to monitor water levels at a wetland treatment system created by AR at a former Sinclair Refinery in Wellsville.

The AR Wellsville project has harnessed the power of plants and incorporated other natural processes into a wetland treatment situated along the Genesee River. The treatment system uses the plants to clean residual contamination left from the long-closed Sinclair Refinery. The AR project team chose this more sustainable, environmentally friendly way to clean groundwater over traditional, energy-intensive mechanical systems. Now, thanks to a BP-sponsored partnership with neighboring Alfred State College, AR can make use of a more sustainable method of supplying power to a key part of the system.

Project Manager Eric Larson explained, "This is a very low-energy system that relies on gravity to move water from the top of the system, through the wetland treatment cells, and out to the river. However, we needed an energy source to run our automated telemetry system that monitors water levels in the three vertical wetland treatment cells that are an essential part of the system. Solar is a natural fit for this purpose, allowing us to carry forward our commitment to sustainable technologies at this project."

Larson added, "The decision became an even easier one since we are fortunate to have one of the top solar technician training programs in the country located right next door at Alfred State College. We are very excited to be working with Alfred State and look forward to the opportunity of having Professor Jeff Stevens and his students install, build, and maintain this system for us."

Professor Stevens, who runs the photovoltaic laboratory and training program at Alfred State, said, "It’s very exciting for our students to leave the classroom behind and get hands-on experience with a real solar project. We appreciate the opportunity Atlantic Richfield and BP are giving to the College and to our students."

Professor Stevens and his students are working through project planning stages now and anticipate beginning construction of the pilot system this fall.

Larson praised BP’s sponsorship of many programs that have been developed with the College. "Over the last several years, the AR project team has developed a very positive partnership with the College that has enhanced our project and will provide educational opportunities for area students for many years to come."

Craig Clark, interim vice president for Academic Affairs and executive director of the Wellsville campus, said, "Alfred State College is very excited about the expanding partnership with BP and Atlantic Richfield. The new solar telemetry project with Professor Stevens and his electrician students will take this partnership to the next level. This hands-on project will be a great opportunity for students to learn from prototyping and installing this system."