Palmetto Clean Energy News & Solar Energy Blog

An Academic Solar PV System

College campuses across the US are understanding their need to go solar, and the Massachusetts Amherst campus makes no exception. Recently, this college committed to installing solar energy in eight different parts of its 1,400-acre campus. Once completed, Amherst’s solar PV system will enhance the lives of 22,000 undergraduates each year.

Of course, UMass Amherst stands behind any solar learning opportunity it can give its students. Even if they don’t personally work on the construction, students all over campus will indeed notice the changes. One of the most obvious solar PV installations will be right in front of the athletic center.

A Sizable Solar PV System Design

To tackle such a massive project, Amherst had to start construction in multiple areas at the same time. Much of the time, the college has a dozen or more workers digging, wiring, and constructing the framework for each project. At one point, seventy people were working on the construction!

The main point of the college’s design is to look clean and sophisticated. To achieve this look, the solar company chose a black frame that will blend into the campus’s environment well.

A Lifetime of Savings

As with any solar energy project, Amherst will find huge savings with its system. While the college will continue to get most of its power from its onsite plant, the solar projects will produce around 4.5% of its electricity. Amherst will use the solar energy during peak electrical usage times, slicing its rates in half during these hours.

The college doesn’t actually own this enormous solar project, though. Utility company ConEdison does. ConEdison agreed to fund and own the project and will sell the electricity produced to Amherst at a guaranteed savings rate for twenty years. Overall, the system will slice off over $6 million for the Massachusetts college during the twenty-year savings span.

Director of Amherst’s Physical Plant Raymond Jackson says, “In year 10, we have the ability to buy the units at a reduced cost. By 2050, we want to be carbon neutral."

The project will definitely boost the university onto its road of carbon neutrality. If Amherst decides to buy the solar modules, it will take credit for any carbon decrease that has already occurred. Within twenty years, the college will have lowered carbon emissions by 30,000 metric tons!

Solar Trends

As colleges everywhere discover the benefits of solar energy, they’re finding ways to infuse their campuses with it too. For example, the University of Queensland studies battery storage and conducts other research while using a solar PV system for one of its campuses.

The University College Cork in Ireland uses several renewable resources, including a solar water heating system and a wind turbine. The University of Nottingham is aiming toward huge carbon reductions through its Carbon Management Plan.

In California, Stanford University will use solar energy from a nearby system that will produce over half its needed electricity. The University of California San Diego gains over 90 percent of its electricity through its microgrid that spreads all across the campus.

Finally, Colby College of Maine is planning a campus solar energy system, having reached their carbon neutral goal three years ago. These colleges understand the effects their clean energy will have on the world surrounding them, and they don’t want to miss out. These schools are getting in on the solar action, knowing that they will benefit greatly from the clean energy.


Have you jumped into the beautiful world of solar energy yet?


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