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Off-the-Grid: UK Energy Club Leads Charge for Solar-Powered Umbrellas on Campus

December 13, 2022

University of Kentucky College of Engineering students in the Energy Club built partnerships that led to the installation of eight solar-powered umbrellas with device-charging capabilities on campus.

After two years of planning, designing and securing support from stakeholders, the Enerfusion Solar-Dok umbrellas were unveiled at a ribbon cutting event at the Lewis Honors College on November 30, 2022.

UK Facilities Management, a key partner in the project, agreed to maintain the equipment. One set of four umbrellas is located between The 90 and the Lewis Honors College and the other is located in front of Jewell Hall, across from the Gatton Student Center.

Each umbrella is connected to a table and includes USB ports, USB-C ports and two wireless charging pads.

“We wanted something that was going to impact the campus, reduce energy consumption from the grid and excite people about renewable energy,” said Mason Wood, a senior in chemical engineering and president of the Energy Club. “I'm very hopeful that students will use it a lot.”

The project was made possible thanks to sponsorships from Coca-Cola, the Student Sustainability Council, the Student Government Association and the College of Engineering.           

“Hopefully, this project will inspire other campus organizations to move forward with sustainability and renewable energy efforts,” said Wood. “I think this is going to be a huge movement, especially with the help of our generous sponsors.”

The Energy Club at the University of Kentucky was founded in 2018. Every year, the club hosts guest speakers, industry tours and projects for members to participate in. Members of the Energy Club recently toured the UK Center for Applied Energy Research and a solar farm.

“I am very excited about this project as a way for students to connect with solar power directly,” said Shane Tedder, Campus Sustainability Officer for UK. “Moving forward, students will also be able to use the QR code at each table to link to more information about how the university is integrating solar power with campus decarbonization efforts.”