Energy Storage, Solar, Sourcing Renewables, Wind - May 6, 2021
University of Arizona’s Grid-Based Energy Soon to Be 100% Renewable
By the end of May, the University of Arizona will receive all its grid-based energy from renewable sources. This process began on April 30, when the university first received power from the Wilmot Energy Center, a solar + storage system. It will be completed when the Oso Grande Wind Farm goes go online later this month. Together, these wind and solar farms will provide 100% of the university’s grid-based energy and will reduce its CO2 emissions by a third.
The University of Arizona will purchase power from these plants, according to its agreement with Tucson Electric Power (TEP). This agreement will lock in the university’s energy rates for the next 20 years and is currently the largest renewables PPA between a North American university and a local utility.
"This marks a substantial step toward the university's climate neutrality goal of 2040 or sooner and will save the university millions of dollars," said Trevor Ledbetter, director of the university's Office of Sustainability, in a statement.
The university also installed a solar panel array on their ENR2 building earlier this year. This system powers 15% of the building’s energy needs, contributes to the university grid, and harbors pollinator-friendly plants.
“We’ve got so much concrete and rooftops around here and just introducing a little bit of green brings all these benefits,” Barron-Gafford, associate professor school of geography and development, said. “This is an example of the two coming together and the synergies of one plus one can be so much more than two when we connect and put our good practices together.”
"This will dovetail into a larger sustainability action planning process that will expand on the climate action plan and broaden the scope to include other sustainability efforts," Ledbetter concluded.