ASU 10 megawatts closer to carbon neutral

Published Date: 
Tue, 09/20/2011

The State Press
Arizona State University

 

By Ryan McCullough

Forty thousand solar panels across all four ASU campuses have given ASU the ability to generate 10 megawatts of energy.

The panels, spread over 46 solar generating systems, will help ASU move closer to its goal of being carbon neutral by 2025, ASU executive vice president Morgan Olsen said.

ASU President Michael Crow and officials in solar energy gathered Tuesday at the Las Casas Solar Field on the West campus to celebrate the energy achievement.

“Rather than a gold rush, Arizona should be heavily engaged … in something that we call a sun rush,” Crow said.

The amount of energy produced by the panels could power 2,500 average Arizona homes, Olsen said.

Ten megawatts covers 20 percent of ASU’s peak energy requirements, he said.

The 700 panels at the Verde Dicky Dome, where the ASU football team practices, pushed ASU to the 10 megawatts mark.

For each solar system, ASU contracts with a developer who promises to design, finance, install, operate and maintain the system. ASU then purchases the power each system produces at an agreed-upon rate for 15 to 20 years.

After that, ASU has the option to own and operate each system.

Ten megawatts of solar power helps reduce ASU’s carbon footprint by 5 to 10 percent, Olsen said.

“That certainly speaks volumes about ASU’s commitment to sustainability and being a responsible corporate citizen,” he said.

Olsen said one reason behind ASU’s commitment to solar energy is the abundance of sunny Arizona days.

“It probably doesn’t take a rocket scientist to say that is an opportunity that we should take advantage of,” he said.

Ten megawatts of solar power generating capacity also helps ASU achieve Leadership in in Energy and Environmental Design certifications, a rating system that gauges how environmentally friendly a building is.

“We want to make sure that all of our buildings are being designed to that environmental standard (of at least LEED Silver),” Olsen said.

President of Solar Power Partners Bob Powell said at the celebration that his company financed more than eight of the megawatts ASU is now able to generate.

“Truthfully, I wasn’t sure whether we would get it done,” Powell said. “It is a testament to (Michael) Crow’s vision and the team here at (ASU).”

ASU’s solar program began in October 2004 with a 34-kilowatt generating system on the Tyler Street Parking Structure. A 477-kilowatt system will replace the current one in November, Olsen said.

By 2014 ASU plans to be able to generate 20 megawatts of solar energy, or 40 percent of ASU’s peak energy requirements, he said.


Reach the reporter at ryan.mccullough@asu.edu

Source: http://www.statepress.com