As part of its Energy Transition Plan toward a 100 percent clean energy campus, Michigan State University (MSU) announced the construction of 10 megawatts of solar power, covering carports at 5 parking lots across its East Lansing campus. The carports are projected to produce 15,000 megawatt-hours per year or 5 percent of the annual energy used on campus. The project is expected to save the university an estimated $10 million in energy costs over the next 25 years.
“The obvious advantage of this project for our students, faculty and staff is cleaner air due to the emissions-free generation of electricity,” said Wolfgang Bauer, professor of physics told MSU Today. “However, there are significant other benefits such as reducing the university’s utility costs over time. This, in the end, will have a direct effect on keeping tuition rates as low as possible.”
The carport arrays are owned and operated by Alterra Power and Inovateus Solar. The developers will pay $20 million for construction and maintenance costs, while MSU will provide $2.5 million to connect the arrays to its power grid.
Installing solar is a growing trend on campuses across the US. It provides students with insight of infrastructure construction, facilitates a clean energy culture and provides a real-world, lab-like environment where extensive clean energy research and innovations are conducted. At MSU, for instance: “Student teams from the College of Engineering are already working in collaboration with our faculty and infrastructure employees on using the arrays to research topics such as new power inverter technology,” Bauer said.
Although Michigan was criticized by solar and clean energy advocates in the past, the state is stepping up its use of clean energy. Legislation was passed last December (2016) that increased the state’s renewable portfolio standard from 10 percent to 15 percent by 2021 and to at least 35 percent in 2025.
Wind is currently the primary clean energy source in the state with 1,670 megawatts online throughout the state. Michigan is expected to build on its current solar capacity of 35.4 megawatts by adding an estimated 537 megawatts of solar in the next five-years, according to the Solar Energy Industries Association.Tweet