You are here

Projects Updates for key objective: 3.3 Expand the Purchase of Clean Energy

  1. IACT - Energy for Service and Source Well Procurement

    Good morning, Mike!


    Great to hear from you.  Absolutely can provide you with some additional information on both of those procurement pathways:


    1. Sourcewell:



    The University is a member of a purchasing co-op which provides pre-negotiated pricing for a variety of solutions – including microgrids – which enables them to purchase directly through Sourcewell without needing to go out to bid.  Please see attached for an example of the Siemens Sourcewell contract offerings and below for the University’s member information:


    1. Energy as a Service:


    Siemens could design, develop, own, implement and maintain a turn key energy system allowing the University to avoid capital investment and simply pay a “subscription cost” if you will for all their energy needs for I-ACT.  This would also enable them to stay up to date on new technologies as they come on line.  Please see attached “4-Steps for Integrating EaaS” for additional information.


    Again, we would be very happy to get on a call to walk through how to customize either of these offerings to meet their needs in cooperation with the work they are doing with AECOM.


    Could be a really exciting collaboration!


    I warmly welcome your thoughts.


    Thank you and


    All the best!




    Here is the info I received from Siemend for your review.








    Regarding the ongoing discussion of the electrical microgrid design (including PV panels on site) for U20029:IACT the PSC has wondered if UIUC has ever participated in either of this type of programs for procuring such systems by what appears a more design/build method?





    Good Afternoon Aaron and Graham,


    Can you advise if the attached Sourcewell Contract is one that we can utilize, if not, is there an IPHEC contract that would provide this type service? I tried to research the existing IPHEC vendors.


    Thank You






    Hi, Maria


    The awarded contracts on the flyer all appear to be expired per the Sourcewell website.


    #031517-SIE for building technologies

    #051017-SIE for EV supplies and equipment

    #030817-SIE includes HVAC systems and mechanical


    Which contract were you interested in using? We may have something already.


    Also, IPHEC must adopt a consortia award first before a member can leverage it.


    Thank you




    I am not really sure. Morgan or Kevin can you advise on Graham’s question?


    Thank You


    Hello Graham,


    I’m the F&S-CP Project Manager for the U20029: IACT track and fleet building project.  This is an automated and connected track for testing autonomous vehicles and anticipates having renewable energy production from wind turbines and PV panels on the large track site.


    The question which launched this email chain was received from the track designers who became aware of the existence to programs such as Sourcewell when discussing the PV design with potential sub designers for that portion of the track design.  I’m afraid I am not familiar enough with the three projects to know for sure but from the thumbnail descriptions perhaps the first one might be most similar to what is involved here, although this project would involve a large system covering both site elements producing renewable energy and only one building.  Their questions were really if the UIUC had interacted with Sourcewell in the past, and if Sourcewell might be an avenue to explore further as part of their design work.


    Would it be acceptable to share your contact information with the designers so that they could determine if your program could help provide some of the elements required for the IACT track and fleet building?


    Thank you,



  2. RE: Hello + Request

    Dear Morgan


    I hope that you are doing well!

    I also hope that my request below are not presumptuous, but … 😊


    1. From August I will be directing the College of Engineering Master’s program in Energy Systems. A you know, this is an interdepartmental program attracting students from across the board (electrical, civil, chemical, nuclear, mechanical, agricultural, computer, …). Part of the program expects students to work on real industry problems, either via an internship or by solving a client’s energy-related problems and communicating designs/solutions with clients. In Fall we have around 25 master’s students but that number will soon double.
      It will be a privilege if our students could perhaps work on F&S energy-related projects. I know that Rizwan Uddin and John Abelson previously had some students work on project for F&S, and for which our students managed to secure some SSC funds. I was hoping that would again be possible. Please can you indicate if you might have any immediate needs for our master’s students to assist F&S with any energy-related design/redesign work? It would be a privilege if they could benefit from such a “real-world” experience.
    2. Andre Nel will again visit UIUC and he would love to again meet with you, please! He arrives here around noon on August 16 and leaves around 4 p.m. of the 17th. Is there perhaps any chance that he could again exchange ideas with you? Andre has brought about some interesting changes at the University of Johannesburg, including a 2-MW PV canopy located on parking areas. South Africa has immense electricity supply problems and you can imagine that running a campus with up to 11 hours of blackouts every day is exceedingly challenging. He has also purchased who-knows-how-many massive diesel generators to cope with blackouts. Totally unsustainable but it does the job for the time being.
      Please can you indicate if you might perhaps be able to meet for lunch at Houlihan’s on August 16th (around 1 p.m.)? Or, if you prefer, Andre could meet you at F&S or at iSEE. (I have also written to Madhu as Andre would like to also meet her.)   


    Thank you in advance for your attention to my requests.
    I look forward to hearing from you!

    Kind regards




    Hi Leon,


    Thanks for reaching out and congrats on becoming the point person for the Masters of Energy Systems!


    I'm adding Rob Roman here, so he can help connect your students with energy focused projects in Utilities and Energy Services (UES). Rob is the director of UES, and he is highly engaged with and supportive of the iCAP efforts.  Can you extend the lunch invite to him as well?


    I will also pull together a few project ideas for your students. Can you remind me what the timeframe is for their projects?


    For lunch, I'll need to reschedule something to be able to join you, so let me confirm next week.  It would be great to hear of the changes Andres has implemented and share some of our new projects as well. 





    Good afternoon Morgan, Rob


    Thank you for your lightning-quick and positive response, and for introducing me to Rob! Rob, I look forward to collaborating with you.

    • The “professional development” part of the M.Eng. (Energy Systems) degree comprises a 4-credit-hour project that can be taken in the Fall or Spring semester. (I believe that some students have also done this in summer, although UIUC faculty have to be available to act as advisors if that were to happen.) Students usually work alone on topics but they could also be given teamwork if the task demands that.

    Where required, our students will also apply for SSC funding for your projects. But, as you know, our students are only here for a year (or perhaps 18 months) so there is only a slight chance that they might be able to participate in the projects for which they will be seeking SSC funding.

    • I appreciate your positive response regarding potentially meeting with Andre! Apologies for the schlep regarding rescheduling your other appointment. Many thanks though for all your efforts. If you cannot reschedule that meeting, I think that Andre will have some time available on the 17th before his meeting with Karl Gnadt at the MTD --- Karl however must still confirm meeting times, etc. I therefore hope that you will indeed be able to accommodate Andre on the 16th, together with Madhu.

    Looking forward to your further communication and wishing you the best



    Hi Leon,


    I hope you are well!  I’m looking at older emails, and I am worried I dropped the ball on this.  Are you still looking for something from me?






    Good morning Morgan


    Great to hear from you 😊.

    Thanks for your follow-up.
    I attended one of Rob Roman’s meetings with his Assoc. Directors --- and they enthusiastically responded with some excellent project recommendations. I summarize the main suggestions below this email.


    If you have any (additional) energy projects that you’d like to recommend for 2024, that would be super. Thank you in advance! I greatly appreciate your support and advice.

    Best wishes,





    1. Protection of our campus energy systems infrastructure from physical and cyber threats. Potential targets across campus include: Abbott Power Plant; electrical sub-stations, distribution center, and load centers; steam tunnels; high-pressure gas piping; domestic water piping system; chiller plants; storm sewer system; etc. We have had an increased frequency of malicious events across the country in recent times and this topic has been trending.
    2. Promoting, marketing, and selling a campus approach to investing in retro-commissioning and control system modernization/optimization. The University of Illinois F&S teams in UES have saved millions of dollars over many years by dedicating staff and financial resources in these areas. This type of project could give students the opportunity to learn the value of a career path in technical sales and the types of companies that utilize these type of staff members. A focus on developing high-level communication skills and strategic sales skills in conjunction with engineering education can be a lucrative path for some students.     
    3. Cost and Environmental Comparison of Fossil Fuels Cogen Plant with Renewable Energy Plant: This project would involve a comprehensive study of providing 100 MW of FIRM (24-7-365) from a plant fired by a fossil fuel fired co-gen plant as compared to a plant that is 100% renewable. I would recommend that for the cogen plant the project focus on a Gas Turbine/HRSG combination that is natural gas fired, and that for the renewable energy plant the project focus on solar/wind as the generation source with the storage required to provide the 24-7-365 reliability from 100 MW. The storage will likely need to be provided by batteries. Incentives/rebates can be considered and used to develop a “current cost” comparison, but I would recommend that a fully loaded cost be included so that there is an apples to apples comparison. Would recommend that the total carbon footprint of each project also be considered.
    4. Chiller Plant Optimization: The University is in the process of developing an optimization model/system for the chilled water system. This model will monitor the system demand as well as the performance of the major pieces of equipment at each of the plants, and optimize the operation of the major pieces of equipment to increase the efficiency (lower the energy usage) of the overall system. This project would involve working with the contractor and controls engineer at UES to understand what does into developing the model, what are the keys aspects of optimizing the system/plants, and perhaps assisting with certain facets of the project. We would need to discuss this project with the company performing the optimization to insure they are agreeable to working with the students.
    5. Solar Farm 2.0 Operator Project: The operator of Solar Farm 2.0 committed to partnering with the university on education as it relates to solar power. If a student were particularly interested in a solar power project, we could setup a conversation with Sol Systems to inquire if there was something in particular they would work with a master student on. They are helping with an undergraduate sustainability class, so I am assuming they would be interested in working with a masters student, but I don’t have a specific project in mind at this time.
    6. Grid Reliability based on Increase Integration of Renewables into the Grid: Grid stability and reliability has been and will continue to be impacted significantly by the integration of more and more intermittent generation sources into the grid. This project would largely be research based to understand the nature of the issues that are being created, perhaps identifying the tipping point at which the % of intermittent resources will result in problems, and most importantly identify the steps that need to be taken to alleviate these issues.
    7. Power Plant Projects: Mike Larson did not have anything specific in mind but would be willing to generate a suitable topic based on student interest in this area.
    8. Study on Geothermal Use in Large Institutional Buildings at UIUC: We have investigated the use of geothermal on both large and smaller buildings on campus, and have not yet found compelling evidence the geothermal is a great option on our campus. This project would research the technology, it’s uses and applications, and the practicality of using it on our campus. The project could investigate large institutional projects that have included geothermal (Ball State and EPIC in Madison Wisconsin are two that come to mind), and assessing their viability on the UIUC campus.    
    9. Protection of our campus energy systems infrastructure from physical and cyber threats. Potential targets across campus include: Abbott Power Plant; electrical sub-stations, distribution center, and load centers; steam tunnels; high-pressure gas piping; domestic water piping system; chiller plants; storm sewer system; etc. We have had an increased frequency of malicious events across the country in recent times and this topic has been trending.
    10. Promoting, marketing, and selling a campus approach to investing in retro-commissioning and control system modernization/optimization. The University of Illinois F&S teams in UES have saved millions of dollars over many years by dedicating staff and financial resources in these areas. This type of project could give students the opportunity to learn the value of a career path in technical sales and the types of companies that utilize these type of staff members. A focus on developing high-level communication skills and strategic sales skills in conjunction with engineering education can be a lucrative path for some students.
  3. Intro to Invenergy Hydrogen Team

    Associated Project(s): 





    Invenergy, a leading sustainable energy developer based in Chicago, is developing clean hydrogen projects and would like to talk about your plans for campus decarbonization, especially as they related to CHP systems. Invenergy is also a leading member of the Midwest Alliance for Clean Hydrogen (MachH2), which is submitting a strong proposal to the DOE for hydrogen hub funding—meaning their Midwest project may be receiving funds as early as January 2024. Jon Horek (VP of Hydrogen) would like to set up some time to hear your perspective and share more information about potential opportunities for collaboration.


    Hi Morgan,

    Please allow me to make an introduction to Jon and Nayeli at Invenergy.

    We had a meeting to talk about hydrogen for our facilities and they were interested in talking to others with large central plants (which we no longer have).

    You may already have efforts regarding hydrogen underway but wanted to make the introduction in case it can be beneficial.

    If nothing else, good to make connections and I hope everything is going well down at UofI.




    Hi Aaron, thanks for the intro.


    Nayeli and Jon, nice to meet you.  I am adding Rob Roman here, as he is the Director of Utilities and Energy Services for UIUC.






    Morgan, please disregard the email I just sent. I realized I had missed this message where you included Rob. It’s great to e-meet you both and sorry for the delay as I’m catching up after taking time off.


    We’d like to have an informal conversation to better understand if and how hydrogen might be helpful for your campus decarbonization plans (especially regarding campus energy and fleets). As mentioned, we expect to receive funding next year towards our clean hydrogen project in the Midwest.


    Would you be available for this chat this Friday sometime between 11:00 and 1:30?  


    Thank you,

     Nayeli Gallardo


    Morgan and Rob,


    Dropping Aaron now that he’s introduced us.


    Jon and I are still interested in setting up an intro call. Would this Friday afternoon between 2 and 4 work for you? Or perhaps next week?








    Morgan is out of the office this week. I would propose a meeting on 5/11/23 at 11AM. I do not know if Morgan is available, but it’s a start.




    Hi Rob,


    Thank you for letting me know. I’m happy to reserve a tentative time slot, which we can hopefully confirm once Morgan is back or we can move if necessary. Unfortunately, 11am on May 11th would be a bit tight for us. Below are other time slots that would work for us as of today. Does one of these work for you?


    Wed May 10: 11-noon, 3-4pm

    Thu May 11: 10-11am, 10:30-11:30am, 2:30-3:30pm

    Fri May 12: 10-11am, 2-3pm





  4. N-G Mailbag question: UI's sources of electricity

    A representative from the News-Gazette reached out to Steve Breitwieser with questions regarding Abbot Power Plant:

    Please also see the attached spreadsheet with data on steam supplied buildings.

    Hi Kathy,


    Abbott Power Plant generates all district heating and almost 275,000

    megawatt-hours (MWh) of electricity each year using a high-efficiency

    cogeneration process, which simultaneously produces both steam and

    electricity. When the campus load for heat is highest during the

    winter months, the plant, along with the two utility-scale solar

    farms, provides almost all the electricity that the campus needs,

    with the remainder coming from wind energy that is imported onto the

    campus grid. Throughout the year, Abbott's sustainable cogeneration

    process supplies approximately

    85 percent of the total energy demand (steam and electricity) for the

    Urbana campus, which includes almost 50 percent of the overall electricity usage. The electricity not generated at Abbott, from

     on-site solar arrays, or acquired through a wind power purchase

    agreement is purchased through Prairieland Energy, a corporation

    solely owned by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees. More

    information about utilities production is available at


     Happy Holidays!

     Steve B.


    Hi, Steve. As I'm assembling this week's column, I have several




     Can you clarify what's meant by "district heating"?


     Does most of the steam generated by the cogeneration process end up

     heating some of the older buildings on campus? (I spent 20+ years in

     Mumford Hall and remember the sounds the pipes made at certain times of year.)


    Any idea of approximately what percentage of the campus' interior spaces are still heated with ssssssteam heat?


    I took a look at the website you mentioned, and have a couple of questions

     about that: What does  UES stand for?   And the website says, "During low

    campus demand for both heat and air conditioning, Abbott typically

     burns natural gas. During the winter months, when the campus heat load

     is highest, a combination of both coal and natural gas is necessary."

    Is that information still accurate? (I thought the coal scrubbers were

    no longer in use on campus...?)



    If it's not possible to get answers to me this week, that's OK; I can hold the item for next week.


    Thank you,



     Hi Kathy,


     I'll follow up on these in greater detail when everyone returns next week.


     UES is the acronym for the Utilities & Energy Services division that is within Facilities & Services. District heating is referencing the process used to distribute steam from Abbott to campus facilities through underground pipes.


    Steve B.




    There were a couple of follow of questions to this media inquiry from the NG before the break.  Can you help clarify the highlighted sections by Wednesday with any additional information? For the interior spaces question, let me know if you can explain that more precisely – on our website we say “More than 250 campus buildings use the steam produced at Abbott for their heating.” The UMP also indicates: From discussions with U of I staff, approximately 85% of the campus condensate is returned to APP (if that would be something to note from a process standpoint along with an explanation like below).


    Abbott uses gas turbines, natural gas-fired boilers, and coal fired boilers, recovering reject heat from electric generation to help produce steam. The plant pipes steam underground across campus to provide buildings with space heating, domestic hot water, sterilization, and more. Once used, the steam condenses into water and returns to the plant where it is recycled and reused.



    I could respond to the fuel item with what we have said previously…


    When the campus load for heat is highest during the winter months, natural gas and coal are utilized to meet the significant energy demand. The coal-fired

    boilers are also a part of research efforts, primarily related to carbon capture technology. Additionally, maintaining fuel flexibility provides the university operational reliability and the ability to respond to market factors for purchased utilities.


    Thanks for helping out with some more detail on this one.

    Steve B.




    Do you guys or maybe steam distribution know approximately what percentage of campus buildings are still on steam heat?



    David Hardin


    I have not seen a list. We will ask Steam.


    When time allows maybe we could add a column to note the steam yes or no. Hmmmmm Elizabeth stated Keith Erickson had a list and she recalls some sort of building database that listed utilities per building such as steam,  electricity from Abbot or Ameren, gas etc. It would be nice to find this.






    Are you guys aware of the list/database Dave referenced below and if so where it is located?






    I would think that EBS would provide a list of building that are served with steam, based on the meters in EBS.


    Tony and/or Kate,


    Can you clarify/confirm how many buildings on campus are served with steam from EBS?  The email string below indicates that the Util. Master Plant said over 250 buildings are served by steam from Abbott. Is that still the case?


    Mike Larson


    According to EBS, there are 175 active steam meters. Some buildings have multiple meters so there would be fewer buildings than that.




    Kate Brewster


    Anthony should be able to run a query that will give us an exact number from our last billing cycle.






    As of our last EBS billing the count is 147.  I have attached the file that supports this number for your reference.






  5. Advantages of hot water versus steam within buildings

    Below is an email exchange between Jim Sims and Tom Keller:

    Mike or Tom,


    The EMT is discussing the advantages of converting building heating systems from steam to hot water with steam distribution. Would one of you be able to clarify this benefit?








    Hot water is more efficient than steam because it is easier to control. This also adds comfort to the occupants. Steam can be easier to leak and it is hotter, so there are some small safety concerns. Steam tends to be a bit noisier than hot water. Hot water can be easier to maintain than steam.


    There are quite a few other reasons. This is why hot water heating systems have become the industry standard.









    I asked Tom Keller and Mike Halm to provide some feedback regarding the advantages of hot water versus steam within buildings. Please see Tom Keller’s response below for our information. Please let me know if we would like for Tom would like to further explain “quite a few other reasons” or his primary benefits listed below.





  6. Energy iCAP Team Meeting 10/7/2022

    The energy iCAP team met on Friday, October 7th 2022 to review the team's presentation for the campus sustainability celebration, review the team's priorities for the year, and discuss options for advancing the proposed clean energy plan and increasing procurement of renewable energy through power purchasing agreements.

    Link to meeting recording:

  7. Illinois Solar Renewables Resources

    Associated Project(s): 

    For Homeowners:

    Citizens Utility Board (Community Solar) -

    EnergySage -

    Google Sunroof -

    IL Solar Energy Association (IL Solar Ambassadors and vendor lists) -


    For specialized organizations:

    Midwest Renewable Energy Association -

    Clean Energy Buyers Association -

    Elevate -



    City of Chicago -

    Cook County -

    Illinois Solar for All (Community Solar) -

    Illinois Shines -

    EPA (Solar Resources) -


  8. FY21 Green Power Partnership Renewed

    F&S completed the renewal of our recognition as a Green Power Partner through the US Environmental Protection Agency. Green Power Partners of our scale now have to use renewable power for seven percent of their annual consumption. Fortunately, the FY21 green power supply for FY21 was 9%, which is a +1.72% increase from the FY19 supply of 7.28%. See attached file.

    Overview submitted: 

    The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) is proud of its sustainability initiatives and success in achieving Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCAP) goals ( The iCAP is the university’s strategic plan to meet the Climate Leadership Commitments, including being carbon neutral as soon as possible and building resilience to climate change in the local community.

    The Urbana campus on-site renewable energy portfolio meets more than 12 percent of annual electricity needs ( UIUC’s Solar Farm 2.0 was energized in January 2021, producing 20,000 MWh/year. Combined with Solar Farm 1.0 and other rooftop and ground-mounted solar installations, the Urbana campus generates more than 27,000 MWh/year, ranking UIUC third amongst U.S. universities in on-site clean power production. Incorporating renewable energy continues to be a focus of new facility construction and major renovation projects. Most notably, the innovative Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Building features 970 rooftop panels. Since production started in April 2019, 11 percent of all power supplied to the ECE Building has been from the array, while additional output is reserved for research and educational activities. In September 2016, the university also signed a ten-year wind power purchase agreement for 25 million kWh/year and the rights to the environmental attributes.

  9. Kane County Solar PV Concerns

    Associated Project(s): 

    Kane County Department of Environment and Water Resources, Management Coordinator, Ivy Klee reached out to get some information about solar panels. Specifically, they are proposing a solar project that is across some residential homes. The residents of those houses have growing concerns about living across from an eight acre solar field due to potential radiation. Ivy wants to know if this is a legitimate concern and if there is any research on this subject. Professor and Director at the Grainger Center of Electric Machinery and Electromechanics, Philip Klein, explained that any electromagnetic radiation stems from inverters and wiring, not from the panels themselves. Certified residential inverters must meet FCC Class B limits (similarly to air conditioners and other residential appliances). The only potential concern is communications interference which has only been an issue when solar farms have been installed very close to aircraft navigation radars or military radars. For more information visit:

    Other information was shared regarding solar PV by Mechanical Engineering Emeritus Professor, Ty Newell:

    -As homes electrify (heat pumps for comfort conditioning, heat pumps for water heating and heat pumps for clothes drying), along with EVs (Electric Vehicles), all solar energy (including wind) converted to electricity for powering our homes, buildings and vehicles is released back into the environment at exactly the same amount that was temporarily diverted to keep our food preserved, buildings comfortable, and providing transportation....unlike fossil (stored solar energy) that is an additional release of energy to the environment (along with a lot of other stuff)

    -Every dollar removed from fossil fuel related electricity production creates 10 times more jobs in manufacturing and construction for building heat pumps, constructing solar and wind fields, and improving our buildings (~0.2to 0.3jobs per million$ of revenue for fossil fuel industry, similar to investment banks and health insurance companies versus 2-4jobs per million$ of revenue for jobs in manufacturing and construction...Fortune 500 data)

    -Improving home and building efficiency will create a surplus of electric energy for a seamless transition to EV transportation

    -EVs require about 200square feet of solar array (size of a garage car space) for 10-12,000 miles of driving per year

    -The coal industry employs fewer people (less than 8000) in Illinois than the Univ of Illinois graduate each year.....clean energy and sustainable living technologies will provide those jobs



  10. Radio interview about geothermal and clean energy

    Morgan White with Facilities and Services, Sustainability, spoke with Stevie Jay and Diane Ducey on May 10, 2021 on ESPN radio 93.5. They discussed the new Campus Instructional Facility geothermal system, other clean energy projects on campus, and the local Geothermal Urbana-Champaign program.  

  11. International Renewable Energy Agency

    The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy. IRENA promotes the widespread adoption and sustainable use of all forms of renewable energy, including bioenergy, geothermal, hydropower, ocean, solar and wind energy in the pursuit of sustainable development, energy access, energy security and low-carbon economic growth and prosperity.


  12. Newsgazette Mailbag about campus renewables

    Renewable energy at the UI "How much power is each of the renewable (University of Illinois) sources generating? How many houses can each provide power for? Are there plans to add more than what we currently have? How many years does it take for the cost of each to be paid off? We have a growing interest in this and many homes now also have this."

    Morgan White, the UI's associate director of Facilities & Services for sustainability, has all your answers.

    As for power generation, she said that the UI's "on-campus solar arrays are now capable of producing over 25,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) per year and we purchase an additional 25,000 MWh/year from an off-campus wind farm in Illinois.

    "For a more comprehensive answer:

    "The (Illinois Climate Action Plan) 2020, objective 2.3.1 is: '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. As of 2020, there are three types of clean power options being pursued or used on campus.

    "1. Solar Energy on Campus: installing solar photovoltaic panels on campus property

    "2. Wind Energy on Campus: installing wind turbine generators on campus property

    "3. Power Purchase Agreements for Clean Energy: purchasing solar or wind power from off-campus

    "FYI, Solar Farm 2.0 is projected to produce 20,000,000 kWh/year. It began production at the end of January, so there will only be 5 of 12 months production in the FY21 totals (this current fiscal year)."

    As for the number of houses each can provide power for, White said, "At Facilities & Services, we use the US Energy Information Administration (EIA) for the average power use in an American home. It currently says, 'In 2019, the average annual electricity consumption for a U.S. residential utility customer was 10,649 kilowatthours (kWh).”

    "Thus, the FY20 clean power use on campus (30,635,993 kWh) was the equivalent of the power needed for 2,876 houses. Once Solar Farm 2.0 is operating for an entire year, that will be about 50,000,000 kWh/year of clean power use on campus, which is the equivalent to the power needed for 4,717 houses."

    And about whether more generation will be added, she said: "The recently released Illinois Climate Action Plan 2020 (iCAP 2020) includes a goal for increasing clean power use to 140,000 MWh/year by FY25. We are currently having internal discussions at the University of Illinois about initiating a large off-campus solar power purchase agreement to meet this goal. We are also continuing to pursue clean thermal energy solutions, such as geothermal. Additionally, large construction projects on campus are required by the state law to be LEED certified, and this will often entail the addition of clean energy systems for individual buildings."

    The payback period for each of these systems varies widely due to several factors, she said.

    "For example, the geothermal system for the Campus Instructional Facility is projected to pay for itself in 28 years, while Solar Farm 2.0 is saving money in year one," said White. "For local projects off-campus these programs are very helpful: the Solar Urbana-Champaign program typically finds solar installations to pay for themselves in six or seven years, and the Geothermal Urbana-Champaign program typically finds a geothermal system at a residential home can pay for itself within 10 years."

  13. archived info - previous project description and background, pre iCAP 2020

    Associated Project(s): 


    The 2015 iCAP, chapter 3, objective 3, is "Expand the purchase of clean energy. By FY20, obtain at least 120,000 MWh, and by FY25 at least 140,000 MWh from low-carbon energy sources. These targets represent 48% and 56% of our expected 2050 electricity demand, respectively." There are several methods for increasing campus clean energy use: on-campus renewable energy generation (such as the Solar Farm), off-campus power purchase agreements (such as the Wind PPA), the purchase of Renewable Energy Certifications (such as the FY15 RECs purchase), and clean energy provided through the grid purchased electricity (see MISO).


    Generate Renewable Energy On-Campus

    Renewable energy on campus is one of the most important clean energy sources. Solar farm is the main project, geothermal is a promising method, combined with biomass, etc., the proportion of renewable energy is increasing.

    Enter into Power Purchase Agreements

    A power purchase agreement (PPA) is a contract with an energy generation facility. A long-term PPA with a renewable energy generation facility could enable the construction of new renewable energy generation. At the time of this writing, the most economical renewable PPAs are for wind energy from large farms of wind turbines, but we expect that other types of renewable PPAs may become affordable in the future.

    Although nuclear power is not considered renewable, an existing nuclear power plant produces no carbon dioxide emissions and can help us meet our emissions goals. A PPA with a nuclear power plant would enable us to purchase energy from a zero-carbon source.

    Buy Renewable Energy Certificates

    Electrical output from both renewable and nonrenewable power sources are combined in a regionaltransmission grid. In order for a consumer to claim the use of renewable energy, it must own the associated Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), each of which represents the environmental attributes of 1 MWh of renewable electricity generation.

    Only the owners of RECs can claim that they are using renewable energy. For example, if a wind farm operator sells its electricity to one party but sells the associated RECs to a second party, only the second party can claim to be using green energy. To qualify as renewable, any energy the campus purchases must be bundled with RECs, and the campus must retain the RECs for any renewable energy it produces. Therefore, the forthcoming Solar Farm will count toward our renewable energy goals only so long as campus does not sell the associated RECs.

    Another method to increase our use of renewable energy is to separately purchase “unbundled” RECs, without purchasing power from the same generation source. For example, we could purchase power from a coal plant, but purchase a corresponding number of RECs from a wind farm (in this case, the wind farm would sell its electricity without the environmental attributes to a customer who is not willing to pay for the environmental attributes). The purchase of unbundled RECs reduces our carbon footprint according to generally accepted carbon accounting procedures, but it is not clear if it adds renewable energy to the grid.

    In 2015, there was exceptionally low demand for RECs in our local grid region because there are no effective government standards requiring the purchase of renewable electricity. At the same time, a significant number of wind farms have been built and are profitable even without selling RECs (due in large part to a federal tax credit for wind production), leading to a very large supply of RECs. Given the low demand and the oversupply, prices for RECs are very low, and therefore it is not clear that the purchase of RECs really provides an incentive for generators to produce more renewable electricity, or that it leads to an actual reduction in overall global CO2 emissions.

    When unbundled RECs are purchased as part of a long-term contract, this can facilitate the construction of new renewable energy generation facilities. Long-term RECs contracts would also have the economic advantage of “locking in” the current low prices. Conversely, the voluntary purchase of short-term unbundled RECs from existing facilities does not add new renewable energy to the grid. For these reasons, the campus would have a greater environmental impact by purchasing long-term RECs contracts, either bundled with renewable energy in a PPA, or unbundled.

    Low-Carbon Grid Purchased Electricity

    Approximately half of the campus electrical demand is purchased through the MISO grid.  In FY15, the grid purchased electricity included over 10% from low-carbon sources.  Because the RECs are not included when campus buys the energy, it is unclear who can claim the use of that clean energy.  With the new energy bill passed in 2017, there are changes to the requirements for campus’ participation in the Renewable Portfolio Standard.  As these requirements and associated benefits of low-carbon energy in the grid become clarified, it may be determined that the grid’s clean energy can be included in the total campus clean energy usage.

  14. FY20 Green Power Partnership renewed

    F&S has renewed our campus' recognition as a Green Power Partner for FY20 through the Environmental Protection Agency. This voluntary program promotes the use of green power, and the combined supply for the Champaign-Urbana campus during FY20 was 7.2% of the total electricity usage. 

    Please see the attached file to see a more in-depth look at the green power supplied and generated on campus