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New Project at CSU Further Boosts School, State Solar Energy Capacity

Monday, January 7th 2013 10:00 PM
By GetSolar Staff.
New Project at CSU Further Boosts School, State Solar Energy Capacity

Colorado, with its snowy winters but sunny skies, is ranked the fourth in the nation for the most megawatts of installed clean solar energy in the United States. According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Colorado has a total of 208 MW, enough to power more than 37,700 homes. Since 2009, the solar photovoltaic capacity has increased tremendously, bringing on an additional 152 MW. This growth has also made the state home to the fifth-largest increase in the U.S. for solar PV capacity seen during the last three years.

Its solar market is promising, and many residents, business owners and even public organizations including schools are taking advantage of the renewable energy source. Colorado State University in Fort Collins made headlines in 2011 when it was named as one of the top four public universities in the nation for solar power, according to the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The school has two of the top 10 largest PV installations at any four-year university, and it ranked sixth among all public and private colleges and universities for installed solar power.

CSU will boost its solar capacity even more. School officials said they plan to add to the 5,500 kilowatts of solar power being generated on campus. Northern Colorado Business Report said CSU has reached an agreement to install a new solar array that will increase solar capacity and lower the universities electricity bills even more. The article said most of the installed solar capacity comes from an existing array at the school's Christman Field - a small, inactive airfield where a weather station for the college is also located. School officials are considering locations for the new solar panel array, which include the rooftops of dormitories or atop a parking garage.

The amount of electricity the solar array generates will depend on the city of Fort Collins' solar-energy buying program, the Business Report stated. City officials may decide to cap the amount of solar generation it buys from an individual project at 1 MW.

"We're game for a system that big," Carol Dollard, energy engineer at CSU told the source. "Wherever the city sets the upper limit is probably where we're going to be aiming."

Previous Solar Projects at CSU
CSU's solar projects have also helped the school achieve the highest score among universities dedicated to sustainability measures from the Sustainability Tracking, Assessment & Reporting System, the college's website stated.

“Colorado State is committed to building sustainability into our campus environment in everything from using recyclables in our dining halls to building a biomass boiler on our Foothills Campus,” said Amy Parsons, vice president for CSU's operations, said in the article. “We’re saving money by improving our energy efficiency and we’ve been able make some projects into teaching and learning opportunities for students.”

In 2008, the school added a 1.2-MW solar array. A power purchase agreement between a local utility and CSU will mean the university can purchase electricity at a fixed-rate for 20 years, and protects against future rate increases without upfront costs to the school. In January 2011, CSU also completed one of the largest solar plants at a U.S. university. The amount of solar energy capacity coming from the CSU campus is on par with that generated by the U.S. Air Force, the school's website stated. CSU also has five solar PV installations on campus.

Larimer County, where CSU is located, is home to 40 solar installations, according to the National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

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