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Solar Farm 2.0 (In Progress)

Description

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. This project allows campus to achieve the 2015 iCAP objective 3.2 to produce at least 25,000 MWh/year by FY25 from solar installations on campus property.

Solar Farm 2.0 was developed by national solar energy firm Sol Systems, which built the farm with innovative features such as bifacial solar panels, single-axis trackers, pollinator habitat, and zero waste construction practices. This project is among the most technologically advanced and sustainable solar projects in the U.S. Through the firm’s development wing, Sol Customer Solutions, a joint venture between Sol Systems and Capital Dynamics, Capital Dynamics will serve as owners of the project with Sol Systems managing the asset throughout the 20-year term of the agreement.

The $20.1M contract is anticipated to save the university $300,000 in the farm’s first year compared to electricity purchased from the wholesale MISO market. Prairieland Energy will buy the solar energy for the Urbana campus at a fixed rate of $45.99 per MWh, and the University will receive the associated renewable energy certificates (RECs) and the right to claim the use of clean energy.

Background

The 2015 Illinois Climate Action Plan (2015 iCAP) looked for clean energy solutions for campus and set stretch goals for both the use and the production of clean energy for campus. In April 2017, the Energy Generation, Purchasing, and Distribution SWATeam submitted recommendation eGen007 to "Start a project to expand the existing Solar farm, or install a new large scale solar installation in a new location." In November 2017, the iCAP Working Group completed their assessment of the recommendation, stating "The iWG agrees that this is the most cost-effective method for meeting the iCAP objective of 25,000 MWh/year of on-campus solar generation by FY25.  To meet that goal, the Solar Farm 2.0 project needs to begin soon, under F&S direction."  In November of that same year, the Sustainability Council approved the concept of this new solar farm, and a site selection was completed during spring 2018. 

In the summer of 2018, after discussions with our neighbors in Savoy, the Chancellor’s Capital Review Committee approved the location, and a request for proposals was initiated. Different vendors from across the nation submitted proposals and various designs for this new solar farm, with nineteen submissions in total. By May of 2019, Sol Systems of Washington, D.C. was chosen to complete the project. Prairieland Energy, Inc. (PEI) will buy the solar energy at a fixed rate of $45.99 per megawatt-hour (MWh) for the duration of the 20 year Power Purchase Agreement, and the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign will receive the associated renewable energy certificates (RECs) and the right to claim the use of clean power.

Project Team

  • Primary Contact:

    Morgan White

    Project Leader:

    Sushanth Girini

    Team Members:

    • Mohamed Attalla
    • Rob Roman
    • Frank Colacicco
    • Mike Larson
    • Greg Landes
    • Brent Lewis
    • Ben Ford
    • Kevin Chalmers
    • Tony Spurlock
    • Pedro Leon de La barra, Sol Systems

    Prior Contacts:

    • Kent Reifsteck
    • Scott Willenbrock
    • Mike Marquissee
    • Keith Erickson
    • Rennie Friedman, Sol Systems
    • Matthew Tomaszewski
    • German Bollero
    • Jason Sweet
    • Justin Johnston
    • Karl Helmink

Dates

  • Proposed April 10, 2017
    Proposed by Scott Willenbrock
    Investigated December 7, 2017
    Investigated by Chancellor Jones (approved issuing an RFP)
    Approved September 19, 2019
    Approved by Board of Trustees
    Started July 22, 2020
    Started by Sol Systems, LLC

Themes

Project Location(s)

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