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Projects Updates for key objective: 47. 5% Renewable Sources

  1. 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:

  2. 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) -


  3. 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.

  4. 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



  5. 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.  

  6. 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.


  7. 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."

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. Chicago's Renewable Energy Resolution

    Associated Project(s): 

    BE IT RESOLVED, That we, the Mayor and Members of the City Council of the City of Chicago, assembled this thirteenth day of March 2019, commit to transition to 100% clean renewable energy community-wide beginning with 100% renewable electricity in buildings by 2035 and complete electrification of CTA's bus fleet by 2040;

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That we commit to ensuring that community-wide power will come from the generation and storage of clean, renewable energy from solar, wind, and geothermal sources with an emphasis on new and local resources; and

    BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, That the City of Chicago will develop a transition plan by December 2020, which will outline key strategies, set progression milestones, develop a timeline for reaching an equitable clean energy transition, and further opportunities to create a 100% clean, renewable energy future community-wide, as well as addressing issues including but not limited to...

    (see file)

    Attached Files: 
  11. FY19 Green Power Partnership renewal submitted

    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, an increase from the previous requirement of three percent. Fortunately, the FY19 green power supply for FY19 was 7.28%.  See attached file.

    Overview submitted: The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is proud of its sustainability initiatives, as documented in the Illinois Climate Action Plan. The first project was a 32.76 kilowatt (kW) solar photovoltaic (PV) array on the Business Instructional Facility in 2009. The 14.7 kW PV array, ground mounted at the Building Research Council, is a research platform for the Information Trust Institute. The most significant on-campus renewable energy generation project to date went into operation in December 2015, with the completion of the 5.87 megawatt (MW) Solar Farm, producing approximately 7,200 MWh/year. In December 2015 another solar array was installed on the new Wassaja Residence Hall roof with a capacity of 33 kW. In September 2016, campus signed a ten-year Wind Power Purchase Agreement for 25 million kWh/year. Most recently, the Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Building had 970 rooftop panels installed. Since production began in April 2019, 11% of all power supplied to the ECE Building has been from the rooftop panels, not including the panels that are used for student-oriented research. The University will soon be home to Solar Farm 2.0, which is projected to produce 20,000 MWh/year, nearly tripling on-site production.