Field trips are a common occurrence for the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry’s staff, but they’re usually acting as the host, not the guest. Last month, nineteen 6-8th graders and staff from OSMI’s summer science camp visited Yoshida Foods International for an “Eco Class” and a tour of the Portland sauce factory. These 10-12 year olds also had the opportunity to see first-hand how a business uses solar technology to provide for their energy needs, and I was there with Solar Oregon to participate and share in the experience.
The Yoshida Group is a conglomerate comprised of diverse companies, but is it best known for the teriyaki-style gourmet marinade created in Junki and Linda Yoshida’s kitchen more than 20 years ago.
Yoshida Chairman, Junki Yoshida, personally greeted the class and invited them to tour the factory to see how his sauces are made. As he handed out his sauce samples, he jokingly cautioned them not to disclose any industry secrets they may discover on their visit. Watching Junki meeting the youngsters at his factory reminded me of a scene from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, you know, when Willy Wonka first met the children who’d found the golden ticket and offered them a tour of his factory.*
The group was escorted to the factory roof so students could see the solar array that covers most of the 70,000 sf roof. Cameron Coleman of InSpec Group, a local engineering and construction (EPC) firm, explained to the class how solar panels generate clean energy and feed electricity back to the grid. I was impressed with Cam’s solar knowledge, but was more impressed by his teaching skills.
Sanyo partnered with InSpec Group to install these 798 SANYO HIT Power solar panels to generate electrical power for the Yoshida Foods factory.
Seeing hundreds of those Sanyo solar modules answered a question for me. In 2009, when we were installing our residential solar electric system at naturehouse, we couldn’t find a single 210w Sanyo HIT panel anywhere, so we grudgingly stepped down to the Sanyo 205w. Now I see where they all went!
HIT® stands for Heterojunction with Intrinsic Thin-layer. [It’s a mouthful, I realize, so just say H-I-T.] These solar cells employ a proprietary technology developed by Sanyo whereby hybrid solar cells composed of single (mono) crystalline silicon wafers are surrounded by ultra-thin amorphous silicon layers. The unique structure minimizes defects and produces highly efficient cells capable of achieving up to 17.8% module efficiency.
Following the rooftop excursion, the students headed to a classroom for an Eco Class hosted by Sanyo’s Megumi Marsh who told the group about the “3Rs – Reuse, Recycle and Reduce.” Megumi held their attention because she tapped into the curious nature of a kid who is in an OMSI summer science camp. She asked great questions, and prodded, until the bolder ones offered up an answer. Megumi was assisted by colleague, Tim Kary, from Sanyo Solar of Salem Oregon, who presented Sanyo’s solar manufacturing process to the group. He brought along wafers, solar cells and a polysilicon ingot that the class really appreciated.
Megumi Marsh administers Sanyo’s solar educational program called “Power Our Planet with Sunlight” which teaches students about the benefits of solar power. This Sanyo program began in Nevada last year and is now expanding and collaborating with non-profit environmental organizations such as Solar Oregon.
That’s one reason Claire Carlson (Solar Oregon Executive Director), Tomoko Renner, (Solar Oregon Volunteer), and myself, were invited along on this field trip.
Thanks to Tomoko for coordinating!
System Specifications Solar Modules: Sanyo HIT 210A
Inverter: (2) PV Powered 75kW
- Racking: Sunmoto
- Roof Space: 70,000sf
- System Capacity: 166.3kW
- System Production: 172,000kWh (Annual)
* Willy Wonka is a major character in the classic Roald Dahl children’s book Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. He is the founder of the Wonka Candy Company and proves an unparalleled genius in confectionery development, inventing seemingly impossible products that capture the world’s imagination. From his factory, his products are shipped and sold worldwide.
I dunno, sounds like Junki Yoshida to me … without the Oompa Loompa slavery, of course.
Now, where did I put that golden ticket?
Note: I wrote about Junki Yoshida once before, see my post Honoring a self-made man http://solarflareblog.com/?p=1135
About Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI) – OMSI is a scientific, educational, and cultural resource center dedicated to improving the public’s understanding of science and technology. OMSI seeks to inspire wonder by providing engaging science learning experiences through exhibits, programs, and experiences that are presented in an entertaining and participatory fashion. OMSI is an independent non-profit 501(c)(3) organization and relies on admissions, memberships, and donations to continue their educational mission, programs, and exhibits. http://www.omsi.edu/home
About InSpec Group – InSpec Group is an innovative multi-disciplinary engineering and construction group providing facility and energy solutions to customers across the nation. In addition to its PV solar integration business, InSpec Group has project expertise throughout the entire supply chain of Energy Solutions industries. For more information, visit http://inspecgroup.com.
About Sanyo – Sanyo North America Corporation, a subsidiary of Sanyo Electric Co., Ltd. is a global leading company providing solutions for energy, environment and lifestyle applications. The Energy System Solutions Division is headquartered in San Jose, California, and handles sales and services for photovoltaic and Smart Energy Systems. For further information, visit Sanyo’s web site at http://us.SANYO.com.