University of Maryland installs new solar canopy - Smart Energy Decisions

Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  July 13, 2017

University of Maryland installs new solar canopy

The University of Maryland is installing three solar canopies above on-campus parking garages, aligning with its goal of relying on 100% renewable energy by 2020.

The university’s current renewable energy goals include producing 2.7 MW of solar power on campus by 2018, according to UMD’s Climate Action Plan. The new solar canopies are the first step toward this goal.

On top of that, the project is expected to yield significant savings over time. The university expects to save about $1 million over the life of the 20-year power purchase agreement it has with the installer.

The project was originally estimated to produce 1.9-MW of solar power, but as the project nears completion the estimate has increased to 2.1729 MW, according to a report by The Diamondback, UMD’s student newspaper.

“The energy produced by the canopies, which are metal beams supporting mounted solar panels, will combine with the energy generated by solar panels already in place at Shady Grove's Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research and the Severn Building to produce a total output of 2.946 megawatts,” Sally DeLeon, project manager at UMD’s Sustainability Office, told the newspaper.

The project is expected to be completed by the end of the summer and fully operational by December.

The solar panels, installed by Washington Gas Energy Services, received supplemental funding in the form of a $250,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration, which the university matched dollar for dollar, the newspaper said.

Rather than purchasing the solar canopy systems themselves, the university plans on buying the energy from Washington Gas Energy Services.

“The actual total cost if we had to install it ourselves would have been about $8 million, so instead of doing that, we don't own the equipment,” Maryann Ibeziako, director of UMD Facilities Management’s engineering and energy department, told The Diamondback. “The installer owns the equipment. We are just buying energy.”

According to the university’s Climate Action Plan, it plans to get 100% of its electricity from renewable sources by 2020. It purchased 76% of electricity from renewables in 2015, showing progress toward that goal.

Other energy goals outlined in the plan include reducing carbon emissions 50% by 2020, 60% by 2025 and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.

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