We recently talked about the increasing efforts by colleges and universities to embrace sustainability with the use of renewable energy sources. Those efforts are increasing in many places.
The University of Massachusetts campus in Amherst has recently committed to installing 5.5 megawatts of solar power in 8 different locations on its sprawling 1,450-acre campus. The solar panels are not just going on the roofs of building, two of the largest systems will be in parking lots.
The systems aren’t requiring any up-front costs to the university. Project owner ConEdison has contracted with the university to sell them the electricity generated at a rate well below market under a Power Purchase Agreement. The university expects to save more than $6 million over 20 years. Brightenergy, the company building the systems, is also providing an education component to the project in which students can work with the company’s onsite team and learn about renewable energy.
The university gets most of its energy from an on-site Combined Heat and Power plant. The solar power systems are aimed at providing an increasing amount of the remaining power needs of the school. UMass Amherst expects that eventually there will be solar panels all over the campus.
Other notable university installations include the University of California San Diego, which generates over 90% of its electricity with a university-wide microgrid, Stanford University, which will receive more than half of its electricity from a new 67 megawatt solar array in Kern County, and California State University Long Beach, whose new 4.8 megawatt carport provides students with a shady spot to park on campus as well as 15% of the university’s electrical load.
Sustainability on Campus: UMass Amherst Takes Solar To the Next Level
Photo, posted November 18, 2018, courtesy of the Oregon Department of Transportation via Flickr.
‘More Renewables on Campus’ from Earth Wise is a production of WAMC Northeast Public Radio.
Ezra Small says
Hello, and thanks for covering this story. I work at UMass Amherst and wanted to make sure people had the correct information. UMass Amherst not only has committed to this but these projects are fully completed. We installed 5.5 MW of solar energy on 7 sites across the core of our campus, including 2 large parking canopy systems and 5 roof mounted systems. We also do not expect “that eventually there will be solar panels all over the campus.” This would be an unrealistic expectation due to physical constraints of our campus. Thanks again for covering this. If you want to learn more you can visit: https://www.umass.edu/dcm/campus-solar