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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. This page describes the overarching efforts for on-campus solar production, with child projects for each effort (whether proposed, in progress, completed, or cancelled).

A variety of technologies convert sunlight to usable energy. Rooftop solar arrays can generate energy for a building without expanding the building's space footprint. They can make use of underutilized space and serve as a learning tool for students. Ground mounted solar PV panels do not need a roof strong enough to support the weight of the panels. They still need to be fastened strongly enough to prevent the wind from blowing them over. Solar on Parking Decks or Parking Lots needs to be raised above the height of the parked vehicles, and that adds cost to the installations.


The 2010 iCAP included goals to increase renewable energy on campus.  Regarding solar energy, the 2010 iCAP said, "A full study for solar electric or thermal energies has not yet been conducted. Estimates of the built campus area of ~5 square kilometers can likely accommodate 5 percent solar photovoltaic (PV) array coverage as rooftop solar—or about 250,000 square meters, with peak generation capacity of 25 MW, and generating 45 million kWh of electricity. This has the potential to displace 10 percent of current campus electricity usage. Potential for larger tracking arrays on the South Farms also exists."  It also included the strategy, "Increase the amount of solar photovoltaic and thermal projects."

As of FY17, the campus has a 33 kW photovoltaic array on the roof of the Business Instructional Facility (with an annual production of 44 MWh/yr), a 14.7 kW ground-mounted array at the Building Research Lab (20 MWh/yr) and a 4.68 MW Solar Farm on the south campus (7,860 MWh/yr). There is also a solar thermal array on the roof of the Activities and Recreation Center. During FY17, installation of a 300 kW array on the roof of the new Electrical and Computer Engineering Building (402 MWh/yr) Many other buildings, parcels of land, and parking lots are well positioned to host sizable photovoltaic and/or solar thermal arrays. Although each array in itself would make a small contribution to campus energy generation, taken together the contribution could be significant.

The dropping cost of photovoltaic technologies and the federal solar investment tax credit (ITC) reduce payback period of solar systems and therefore should make investment attractive. The ITC credit is 30% for properties which have commenced construction through 2019, changing to 26% in 2020, 22% in 2021, and 10% after 2023.

In addition to specific solar installations, campus could implement solar-related facility standards, regarding solar installations on new construction and additions. In some cases, it might also be effective to install photovoltaics on the exterior walls of buildings, or try newer solar technologies as they become available. The design phase is the best time to plan for the installation of photovoltaics, which will save time and costs. 


Solar Energy Generation on Campus


  • FY 2008:

    iCAP baseline year

  • FY 2009:

    Production started at BIF

  • FY 2014:

    Production started at BRC

  • FY 2016:

    Production started at Wassaja and Solar Farm 1.0

  • FY 2019:

    Production started at ECE

  • FY 2021:

    Production started at Solar Farm 2.0 and Conference Center

Recent Project Updates

Project Location(s)

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