The University of Pennsylvania has begun work on two new solar energy facilities in central Pennsylvania, as part of the Ivy League school’s long-term commitment to reduce carbon emissions at its properties in Philadelphia. The combined capacity of the two facilities, planned at sites in Franklin and Fulton counties, makes the project one of the largest solar initiatives in the state.
In April 2020, the university signed a power purchase agreement with Radnor-based renewable energy company Community Energy, whose solar installations include projects at Temple University, Eastern University and sites in Lancaster County. The company, which was acquired in December by Virginia-based AEShas several other projects across the United States ranging in capacity from 1 megawatt to 120 megawatts.
On average, one megawatt of solar power generates enough electricity to meet the needs of 164 US homes, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association. estimates.
The large-scale projects planned by Penn will have a combined capacity of 220 megawatts, producing approximately 450,000 MWh of electricity per year. Penn plans to purchase all the electricity produced at the two sites, which the university says will equal approximately 75% of the University of Pennsylvania’s total campus and health system electricity demand. .
The power purchase agreement will last for 25 years at a price competitive with conventional electricity prices.
The exact locations of the two solar fields have not been named by the university.
The smaller of the two projects started in April and the the biggest project will start construction before the end of June, the university said.
The agreement is part of the university agreements Climate and Sustainability Action Plan 3.0which includes a commitment to a 100% carbon neutral campus by 2042.
“This agreement not only allows the University of Pennsylvania to continue to demonstrate strong leadership on climate action, but it also provides a competitive price on electricity,” said Anne Papageorge, vice president. of Penn’s facilities and real estate services division. time projects were announced. “The University first presented its environmental sustainability roadmap in 2009, and we have achieved a lot. This PPA is our most recent example of Penn’s commitment to meeting our climate goals.
Beginning in 2023, the agreement will complement Penn’s previous energy conservation and sustainability initiatives. The university said it would reduce campus carbon emissions by 45% from 2009 levels.
Penn said it plans to retire all Pennsylvania alternative energy credits produced by the solar project, thereby satisfying its requirements under the Pennsylvania Alternative Energy Portfolio Standard.
Penn previously worked with Community Energy on a 10-year contract in 2006 for the Bear Creek Wind Farm, which was one of the state’s first wind energy facilities.
Pennsylvania is in the middle of the pack in the US for solar power capacity, but there have been signs of an impending boom in recent years, State Impact reported. Several hundred proposals submitted to PJM, the region’s electric grid operator, have drawn a mixture of optimism and local rejection from landowners and conservationists in parts of the state.
Earlier this month, a proposed 80 megawatt solar field in Pocono Township – the largest in the Pocono Mountain region – received approval despite apprehensions about the removal of wildlife habitats and root systems.
Depending on the terrain, planners of large-scale solar projects usually try to compensate for environmental disadvantages by including natural buffers and retention ponds in the design of solar fields with a large area.
Last year, Pennsylvania unveiled plans for the largest combined government solar power project in the United States. The 191 megawatt PULSE project will cover six solar installations in six different counties – Columbia, Juniata, Montour, Northumberland, Snyder and York – and supply nearly half of the state government’s electricity needs.
Schools in Pennsylvania have also started integrating a greater share of solar power into their facilities, doubling their use of solar power since 2020, according to a report clean energy non-profit Generation180. Yet only 2% of Pennsylvania schools generate their own solar power and about two-thirds of those receive third-party funding for solar projects.
The Biden administration made a number of commitments this month to support the development of solar energy in the United States, including a 24-month tariff and duty break for certain solar module imports which will relaunch small installations. The administration also authorized the use of the Defense Production Act to promote domestic production of clean energy technologies, including solar panel parts, with the goal of tripling the nation’s solar manufacturing capacity. here 2024.