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Solar Success

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Michael Gollner, mechanical engineering Ph.D. student, is one of four students who created an analytical tool to help the university and San Diego net millions of dollars in solar bonds.

UC San Diego engineering students are harnessing the power of solar energy with their own hands - so-to-speak. A group of students played a key role in helping the university and the San Diego region secure $154 million in federal bonds for solar installation projects. The bond allocations for the San Diego region went to a total of 192 projects submitted by San Diego municipalities, school districts, universities and a water district. The money will come from the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) program.

The analytical tool created by the four mechanical engineering students at the Jacobs School of Engineering - Karl Olney, Michael Gollner, Kevin Peng and Ihab Khayal - made it possible for the schools and organizations to perform engineering and economic analyses of cost, energy output, and payback time of solar PV arrays, information considered crucial to the success of the proposals during the federal review process. Thanks to the students, UCSD will nab $15 million for 15 renewable energy projects under this program. The UCSD engineering students also trained four high school interns from the San Diego Unified School District on the calculation tool so they could file applications for the district easily and quickly. "By taking a scientific approach to what you're doing, you can have a solution that is both good for the environment and good for you economically," said Michael Gollner, a second-year mechanical engineering Ph.D. student. "It's a great feeling to know that our work has helped the San Diego region, and not just the environment but also with boosting jobs and the solar industry here."

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Jan Kleissl (foreground), an assistant environmental engineering professor, and mechanical engineering Ph.D. students Karl Olney and Michael Gollner (L to R) were instrumental in helping the San Diego region secure $154 million in bonds for solar panel installations.

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