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Projects Updates for Solar Farm 2.0

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  1. Mailbag solar article: Suggestion for UI solar panels

    "Why doesn't the company installing the solar panels at U of I put them over the parking lot? I would provide shade for the cars underneath and would eliminate having to kill whatever would be underneath them in the fields."

    The best option for building solar panels is ground-mounted, said Morgan White, the associate director for sustainability at the University of Illinois.

    "As part of our Climate Leadership Commitments the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a goal of producing at least 25,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) per year from on-campus solar," she said. "When we evaluated options for meeting this goal, rooftop solar, solar over parking areas, and ground-mounted solar were all considered. The most cost-effective option is ground-mounted solar, and it also allows for larger-scale installations.

    "For a sense of the scale, the two solar farms will be a total of 75 acres, while the largest parking lot on campus is less than 15 acres.

    "When installing solar panels over parking areas, there are additional infrastructure and labor costs to raise the solar panels above the ground level. Although we do not currently have any solar over parking areas, Facilities & Services is working with the Parking Department to evaluate potential locations for a pilot installation. We are also continuing to install rooftop solar on individual buildings."

    Solar panels are on the following five Urbana campus buildings:

    — Business Instructional Facility

    — the Activities & Recreation Center

    — Wassaja Residence Hall

    — University High School Gymnasium

    — Electrical and Computer Engineering (ECE) Building.

    "I'd also like to emphasize that the ground-mounted solar panels do not harm the plants under them. After building the first Solar Farm, we learned that there was an excellent opportunity for growing useful plants under and around the panels," said White. "This is a great opportunity for creating a multi-functional ecosystem, with pollinator supportive plants and protected areas for small animals and insects."

    https://www.news-gazette.com/toms-mailbag/toms-mailbag-june-26-2020/article_65ef2976-09b9-526a-848d-1419c905b0ec.html

     

  2. Curtis Road landscaping

    Tom's Mailbag in the News-Gazette included information about the Solar Farm 2.0 landscape buffer: https://www.news-gazette.com/toms-mailbag/toms-mailbag-june-19-2020/article_ddf7f640-1c32-5024-98b0-74d8f4ecaa7e.html

    Curtis Road landscaping

    "Curtis Road from Neil Street and First Street in Savoy,  why are they planting several rows of tree and bushes?

    The work underway in that location is for a landscaped buffer between the University of Illinois' Solar Farm 2.0 site and the village of Savoy, said Morgan White, associate director for sustainability at the University of Illinois.

    "Since the start of the project, the university has incorporated the feedback of nearby residents and businesses in planning aspects to ensure that area is aesthetically pleasing and limits the future visibility of the array directly from Curtis Road," she said. "The buffer was designed by the University Landscape Architect at Facilities & Services, Brent Lewis, and it consists of native trees, shrubs and perennials specifically selected for their aesthetics and pollinator benefits.

    "The trees were funded by the Student Sustainability Committee, and the remaining costs were provided by Facilities & Services and the Institute for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment.

    "This extensive buffer planting, along with the 54 acres of native perennials and grasses under the solar panels, will help to establish a diverse pollinator habitat and strengthen ecosystems for local and migratory birds and insects, including butterflies and bees. This effort supports the university's commitment as a 'Bee Campus USA,' proving progress in awareness, native plant landscapes, and safe pest management.

    "When completed, the site will also serve as a demonstration for pollinator-friendly solar arrays, following the requirements of the Pollinator Friendly Solar Site Act, of which the university has taken the lead in creating."

  3. Design drawings being reviewed

    Associated Project(s): 

    The construction drawings for civil and electrical design for the solar farm 2.0 project are being reviewed by F&S, both design review and utilities and energy services, and should be completed in the next two weeks.

  4. SOLAR FARM LANDSCAPE BUFFER

    SOLAR FARM LANDSCAPE BUFFER
    F&S representatives shared detailed designs for the pollinator supportive landscape buffer along the future Solar Farm 2.0 site to the Village of Savoy. Village leaders were pleased with the design plans and thanked us for being responsive to their neighborly request. When completed, this site will serve as a demonstration for pollinator-friendly solar arrays, following the requirements of the Pollinator Friendly Solar Site Act (Illinois Pub. Act 100-1022). Solar Farm 2.0 will produce approximately 20,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually, and will generate the equivalent electricity use of more than 2,000 average American homes.

  5. archived info - previous project description

    Associated Project(s): 

    In order to reach the iCAP objective of 25,000 MWh/year of solar energy by FY25, additional panels will need to be installed.  Large scale, ground mounted panels appear to be the least expensive route towards achieving the FY25 objective.

  6. Pollinator Friendly at Illinois

    University Landscape Architect, Brent Lewis, provided an overview of recent efforts to make the U of I campus more pollinator friendly at the CCNet brown bag lunch this month.  Topics included:

     

    1. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) Program
    2. Living Learning Labs
    3. Facilities Standards / Green Infrastructure
    4. Bee Campus USA designation
    5. Solar Farm 2.0 plantings
    6. Landscape Master Plan

     

    You can watch his presentation on Facebook, at https://www.facebook.com/champaigncountynetwork/videos/512740266019591/.  Join the CCNet Mailing List to stay informed about Champaign County sustainability efforts and to meet local sustainability professionals, like Brent.

  7. Solar Farm 2.0 to Nearly Triple on Campus Renewable Energy Production

    Construction of a new 54-acre, 12.1 megawatt (MWdc) Solar Farm is approved by the University of Illinois Board of Trustees as the sole member of Prairieland Energy, Inc. Referred to as “Solar Farm 2.0,” the new utility-scale array to be located north of Curtis Road, between First Street and U.S. Route 45, will produce approximately 20,000 megawatt-hours (MWh) annually, almost tripling the university’s existing on-site renewable energy generation. Solar Farm 2.0 will generate the equivalent electricity use of more than 2,000 average American homes.

    Sol Systems, LLC, will design, build, operate, and maintain Solar Farm 2.0, for the duration of a 20-year contract which includes power purchase and land lease agreements, and an option to buy the system at the end of the term.

    https://emails.illinois.edu/newsletter/234685.html

  8. Next steps phone call

    Morgan White and Joyce Mast discussed next steps for acheiving Net-Zero status for the ECE Building.  Mike Marquissee is working on a draft MOU about using Solar Farm 2.0 Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).

    Joyce is seeking student input about what should go on the ECE Building interactive display.  If you are interested in working with her on this, contact her at jmast@illinois.edu

  9. Preferred Vendor selected

    Associated Project(s): 

    The evaluation committee has selected a preferred vendor to develop Solar Farm 2.0, and the Chancellor's office approved moving forward with contract development. PEI will work with this vendor to complete the next steps of the award process. The vendor name will be announced upon approval of the contracts in fall 2019.

  10. Meeting Minutes for iWG February, 2019

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