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Renewable Energy Projects

This list includes the key renewable energy projects and ideas, as of July 2015.

Below this project collection listing is a map showing the projects which have a location. Please scroll to the bottom to see it.

Project Listing

Theme Project Status Description
Energy BIF Rooftop Solar PVs Completed

The Business Instructional Facility was the first production rooftop solar PV array installed on a campus building.  In 2009, 168 panels were installed above the auditorium, with 190 Watts per panel and a total system size of 32 kW. The installed panels were SANYO HIP-190/200BA3 PV Modules, with UniRac SolarMount PV Mounting Hardware, Xantrex PV20208 Inverters, and Xantrex CB-12H20-3R Combiner Boxes. 

Energy Biomass Boiler at the Energy Farm Completed

For many years, the UI has grown significant quantities of biomass plant products at the Energy Farm on South Farms. There have been a few preliminary attempts to identify a post-research use for this material, including the cancelled Vet Med Combined Heat and Power (CHP) project and a study of the compatibility with existing boilers at Abbott Power Plant.  Meanwhile the biomass material continues to be stockpiled at the Energy Farm. This project is looking to convert the existing (and future) biomass from the Energy Farm into power for the on-site Energy Farm facility.

Energy Biomass use on Campus Ongoing

Biomass energy is produced from organic materials, such as wood chips or miscanthus.  The Center for Advanced BioEnergy Research (CABER) focuses on bioenergy systems research, and F&S Energy Services is reviewing options for integrating biomass fuel sources into campus energy production.

Energy Carbon-Neutral Energy for Campus Ongoing

The iCAP 2020, objective 2.3 is to "Use clean energy sources for 15% of total campus energy demand by FY30." The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is F&S. Clean energy sources can include but are not limited to: solar, wind, geothermal, biofuels, biomass, renewable natural gas, and nuclear.

Energy Clean Power Agreements Off-Campus Ongoing

The University purchases about half the electricity for campus through the wholly owned subsidiary of the University, Prairieland Energy Incorporated.  In the 2010 iCAP, we committed to being carbon-neutral by 2050.  The majority of campus emissions can be eliminated by implementing more sustainable practices and integrating renewable energy sources for the campus energy supply.  One option for integrating renewable energy sources is to purchase green power through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). 

Energy ECE Net-Zero Energy Building In Progress

The ECE Building acheived LEED platinum certification in November 2019, and it is striving for a net-zero energy certification. From a vast array of photovoltaic cells, to a chilled beam system to cool and heat the classroom tower, ECE wil accomplish a major campus addition with maximum space and minimal carbon footprint.

Excerpt from the ECE building website:

Energy ECE Rooftop Solar PVs Completed

The ECE Building includes Solar Panels on its roof. The panels provide about 11% of the building's energy needs. The infrastructure for connecting these panels to the building electric supply was included in the original design and construction costs for the full building, while the solar panels themselves were funded separately. 

Energy Energy Storage Solutions Ongoing

Intermittent renewable energy and reduction of peak energy demand can be mitigated with energy storage solutions.  The Thermal Energy Storage Tank at F&S is a key feature of energy storage already existing on campus. The huge tank of 6.5 million gallons of chilled water has "Illinois" written on it and is easily visible from the entrance to campus at Kirby and Oak in Champaign.

Additional energy storage solutions are being researched and proposed for integration in the campus energy systems.

Energy Explore Options for 100 Percent Clean Campus Energy Ongoing

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 3, objective 1 is "The Energy Generation, Purchasing, and Distribution SWATeam, in collaboration with Facilities & Services and topical Consultation Groups, will lead an exploration of options for 100% clean campus energy during FY16 and submit recommendations through the formal sustainability process." The campus community has considerable intellectual resources that can be brought to bear on the future of energy generation, purchasing, and distribution.  The

Energy Geothermal at Allerton Park Completed

Allerton Park was able to install a geothermal energy system at the Evergreen Lodge, with funding from the Student Sustainability Committee (SSC) and the Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity (DCEO), as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA).  There are opportunities for future installations of geothermal energy, when funding allows.

Energy Geothermal at President's House - Study In Progress

The President's House is provided to the University of Illinois President and his or her family.  This home is used for some formal events each year, including an event for graduating students each May.  This building is maintained by F&S, and power is supplied through the campus grid.  It has been noted that this site is a good candidate for geothermal energy, so there is a feasibility evaluation underway.

Energy Geothermal at the Campus Instructional Facility (CIF) Completed

 

Energy Geothermal at the Energy Farm Proposed

Campus is exploring options for retrofitting Energy Farm with Deep Direct Use (DDU) geothermal energy.

Energy Geothermal at the Fruit Farm Admin Building Completed

The Fruit Farm Admin building uses geothermal energy.

Energy Geothermal at WPP In Progress

This project will involve the design, construction, and installation of a geothermal system to heat one greenhouse at the UIUC Woody Perennial Polyculture (WPP) Research Site, located near the southwest corner of Race Street and Windsor Avenue.

Energy Geothermal Monitoring Well on Bardeen Quad Ongoing

Campus researchers are installing a geothermal monitoring well in the northwest corner of the John Bardeen Quad during December 2018.  The borehole will be 450 feet deep and it will allow campus to investigate the applicability of using geothermal heat exchange at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Energy Geothermal on Campus Ongoing

Geothermal energy is thermal energy stored in the Earth that humans can extract, process and then use.  Geothermal energy is cost effective, reliable, and sustainable, but has historically been limited to areas near tectonic plate boundaries.  Recent technological advances have expanded the range and size of viable resources, especially for applications such as home heating.  Geothermal wells release greenhouse gases trapped in the earth, but these emissions are much lower than those of fossil fuels.

Energy Geothermal Test Well at Energy Farm Completed

The main objective is to provide comprehensive scientific data and analysis to help our community on evaluating the potential of using ground source heat pump system in a large scale as part of campus green energy policy. 

Energy Green Allerton Wood-fired Boiler Completed

An Outdoor Wood-fired Boiler system was funded to replace a natural gas heating system at Allerton Park. By replacing the previous system, CO2 emissions will be eliminated and there will be a substantial cost savings. The use of a renewable resource (wood), obtained from landscape management at the park grounds in place of a non-renewable one (natural gas), combined with the greenhouse gas emissions reduction will help increase campus sustainability. The Student Sustainability Committee Granted the project $25,500.

Energy Ground Mounted Solar PVs BRC Research Test Bed Completed

Implementation of the Solar Research Test Bed is an important part of the research scope of the Illinois Center for a Smarter Electric Grid (ICSEG).  ICSEG’s research mission is to support the continuing development of the Smart Grid through research that tests and validates the trustworthiness (secure, reliable, private, resilient) of new components and systems that will be required to realize the full potential of the Smart Grid, and renewable energy systems such as wind and solar are critical to realizing this vision.

Energy Hydro-Systems Lab Energy Foundations In Progress

Geothermal energy foundations will be installed this summer as part of the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering’s (CEE) Ven Te Chow Hydrosystems Laboratory addition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Substantial completion of the renovation is expected in Summer 2020.

Energy Install Solar PVs on NCPD Cancelled

The goal of the ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering Building project is to achieve Platinum LEED standards and be net zero for outside energy consumption.  To meet that goal, engineers have proposed the use of solar panels atop the ECE building to offset the building’s energy consumption. Complexities of building design have resulted in the building being unable to support a sufficient number of solar arrays to generate the energy required to offset the building’s energy consumption.

Energy ISTC Geothermal Loop Cancelled

The aim of this project is to investigate the possibility of installing an open-loop geothermal system at the Illinois Sustainable Technology Center (ISTC). Open-loop geothermal systems takes ground water pumped through a large diameter pipe and introduces or extracts heat depending on the season. Installing such a system would give the building an opportunity to reduce total building energy use and greenhouse gas emissions by 25 to 50 percent.

Energy Methane Capture on Campus Proposed

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 6, objective 3, is "Utilize landfills with methane capture." Methane is one of the worst greenhouse gases, and this university has a number of methane producers on South Farms.  There are beef cows, dairy cows, sheep, pigs, horses, and chickens. One of the strategies listed in the iCAP to reduce agricultural emissions is to install a methane capture process for additional energy generation by 2020, with a pilot project by 2015.

Energy Off-campus Solar Farm 3.0 PPA Proposed

To reach our 2015 iCAP objective of 140,000 MWh per year of clean energy usage, we will need to increase our off-campus procurement of clean energy by 90,000 MWh/year.  One proposed solution is to enter into a power purchase agreement (PPA) with an off-campus solar developer.  This potential project is often called "Solar Farm 3.0" and discussions are ongoing about the costs and benefits of this proposal.

Energy PPA for National Petascale Computing Facility In Progress

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 3, objective 4, is "Offset all emissions from the National Petascale Computing Facility (and other successor facilities) by the conclusion of the current period of National Science Foundation support." Petascale is under the purview of the National Center for Supercomputing Applications (NCSA), reporting to the Office of the Vice-Chancellor for Research.

Energy RIPE Greenhouse with Geothermal at Research Park In Progress

Representatives from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation broke ground Wednesday, October 23 on a new, state-of-the-art greenhouse in the Research Park.

Energy Rooftop Solar Potential Completed

One potential method for acheiving the 2015 iCAP goal for on-campus solar is to retrofit existing campus buildings with rooftop solar.  The amount of sun shine on each roof, the viability of the building itself, and the funding mechanisms all need to be reviewed and resolved for this idea to be implemented.  The viability for each building includes approval from the Architectural Review Committee, agreement of the building occupant facility leaders, and structural and electrical viability for the building.  As of 2016, the financial payback for solar photovoltaics is not strong enough to ea

Energy Solar Farm 1.0 Ongoing

The 20.8 acre Solar Farm on the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign South Farms is a Power Purchase Agreement with Phoenix Solar South Farms, LLC, producing an estimated 7, 864 MWh/year of solar energy used solely by the Urbana campus.

Energy Solar Farm 2.0 In Progress

Solar Farm 2.0 is a 54-acre, 12.32 megawatt (MWdc) solar array on the South Farms of the  University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. Located north of Curtis Road, between First Street and Dunlap Avenue near Savoy, Solar Farm 2.0 is producing approximately 20,000 megawatt-hours per year (MWh/year), bringing the total on-campus solar production to approximately 27,000 MWh/year.

Energy Solar Power on Campus Ongoing

The 2015 iCAP, chapter 3, objective 2 is "Expand on-campus solar energy production.  By FY20, produce at least 12,500 MWh/year, and by FY25 at least 25,000 MWh/year, from solar installations on campus property."  Commonly used solar technologies are solar photovoltaics for electricity, solar thermal water heating, and passive solar design for space heating and cooling.

Energy Solar PVs at Idea Garden Completed

The Idea Garden previously lacked access to electricity, making garden maintenance a challenge.

Energy Solar PVs on President's Garden Shed Completed

Dr. Roberta M. Johnson worked with F&S to install a garden shed at the President's House in 2018, with rooftop solar. There are 3 325Watt (W) Solar Panels, so the total solar production capacity will be 975W. 

Energy Solar Thermal at ARC Completed

The 24-panel, gravity fed solar-thermal system on the roof of the ARC preheats domestic cold water prior to its introduction into the steam-powered heat exchanger for domestic hot water, which significantly reduces steam usage for domestic hot water during normal operating periods. There are three main areas of hot water usage (domestic, pool, and air heating), but domestic (i.e. showers and sinks) represents the most pressing need and efficient use of solar technology.

Energy SSC Solar Feasibility Study Completed

The Student Sustainability Committee commissioned a solar photovoltaic study to determine viable buildings for the installation of solar arrays. The new solar arrays would complement the existing 3,700 square foot Solar PV array located atop the Business Instructional Facility that produces approximately 55,000 kWh/year and help define the University of Illinois Urbana Champaign as a leader in the greening of campuses nationwide.

Energy Uni High Gym Rooftop Solar PVs Completed

The University of Illinois Laboratory High School (Uni) received grant funding from Illinois Clean Energy Fund  (ICECF) through its

Energy Use Clean Power In Progress

The iCAP 2020 objective 2.3.1 is to "Use at least 140,000 MWh/year of clean power by FY25." This objective is about clean power, which is different from clean thermal energy. The responsible campus unit for championing this objective is F&S.

As of 2020, there are three types of clean power options being pursued or used on campus.

Energy Use Renewable Natural Gas Proposed

Perhaps the best option for decarbonizing thermal energy on campus is renewable natural gas (RNG). RNG is a drop-in solution that can be generated from a variety of technologies — most notably from upgrading biogas produced from anaerobic digestion — and used in existing infrastructure such as at Abbott Power Plant. Argonne National Laboratory publishes a database of RNG projects divided into the following categories: farms, food waste, landfills, wastewater treatment, and other waste.

Energy Wassaja Hall Rooftop Solar PVs Completed

Wassaja Hall was named after the University's first Native American graduate and a pioneer in advocating for Native American rights.  A 30 kW solar PV array was installed on December 14, 2015 on the east side of the roof.

Energy Wind Power on Campus Proposed

A renewable portfolio standard, passed in 2007, has supported wind power in Illinois, which required 10% renewable energy from electric companies in 2010 and 25% by 2025. At the end of 2011, Illinois had 2743 megawatts (MW) of wind power installed. Illinois has the potential for installing up to 10,000 MW of wind generation capacity; in 2009, it ranked sixth among states for installed wind turbine capacity.

Energy Wind Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Ongoing

From November 2016 through October 2026, the Urbana campus will receive a percentage-based portion of the wind-generated electricity and associated environmental attributes from the Rail Splitter Wind Farm located north of Lincoln, Illinois. The power purchase agreement (PPA) specifies that 8.6% of the total wind generation from the farm will be sold to the university, which is expected to be an annual amount of more than 25,000 megawatt-hours (MWh).

Resilience Illinois Geothermal Coalition Ongoing

Our Mission: The Illinois Geothermal Coalition is a group of corporations, non-profits, geothermal professionals, and researchers seeking to establish Illinois as a leader in geothermal energy.

Resilience Solar Urbana-Champaign In Progress

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is helping to promote and encourage participation in the Solar Urbana-Champaign program. 

The successful Solar Urbana-Champaign group purchasing program is available again in 2018. Since 2016, the program led to the installation of over 2 megawatts of solar on 241 properties in Champaign, Piatt, and Vermilion Counties. The program educated over a thousand individuals about solar and helped people save on solar through volume purchasing.
 
In 2021, the program will conduct its sixth round of bulk purchasing.

Funding ISEIF grants Ongoing

The Illinois Science and Energy Innovation Foundation (ISEIF) was created to inform and engage Illinois consumers in the transformation to a digital electric grid. ISEIF accomplishes this through funding innovative education, outreach, and research projects in correspondence with smart meter deployment timelines.

Reporting Progress EPA Green Power Partner Ongoing

The Green Power Partnership is a voluntary program that encourages organizations to use green power as a way to reduce the environmental impacts associated with conventional electricity use. The Partnership has more than 1,700 Partner organizations voluntarily using billions of kilowatt-hours of green power annually.

Engagement Illinois Solar Decathlon Ongoing

Who We Are

Illinois Solar Decathlon is an interdisciplinary registered student organization with over 60 undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. We compete in the international, Department of Energy-sponsored Solar Decathlon Build and Solar Decathlon Design competitions. Illinois Solar Decathlon is comprised of an executive board, a build competition team, a design competition team, and a concept team, which fosters skills and knowledge development for younger organization members.

Map of projects

Project Updates