Category: Energy Supply, On-site Renewable Energy
Solar Photovoltaics generate electricity using energy from the sun. The three most common solar installations for a campus environment are: ground-mount, roof-top and carport. Additional solar technologies are continuing to emerge (e.g. thin-film, roof-integrated, building facade, window glazings, etc.) Each installation type has a unique combination of technical considerations and environmental and economic benefits. Recent downward price trends for solar technologies has made solar photovoltaics cost competitive with other electricity generation sources.
- Visible commitment to sustainability
- Can provide economic benefits by reducing peak electric demand charges.
- Solar panels have a lifespan of 25 years with very low operating expense.
- Need a significant surface area to cover a meaningful portion of energy demand.
- Requires an up-front capital investment or a long-term contract with a third-party developer.
- Optimal economic performance is achieved through tax incentives which require a tax-equity partner, since universities are typically tax-exempt.
- Certain types of panels contain toxic chemicals and require special disposal techniques at end-of-life
- Greenhouse Gas Impact
- Economic Impact
- Some Challenges
- 1-2 years
- Low / None
- That's pretty cool.
Greenhouse Gas Impact
The scale of on-site solar is often too small to make significant emission reductions.
Varies due to quality of solar resource, cost of grid-energy and amount of solar installed.
Solar is now a mature technology with a robust ecosystem of technologies and developers.
Site permitting, system design and financing are often time-consuming.
Once installed, PV projects require very little maintenance.
Solar is sexy.