Energy Efficiency, Hydro, Sourcing Renewables  -  December 6, 2018

University of Pittsburgh turns to hydropower

The University of Pittsburgh announced that starting in 2022, 25% of its electricity will be purchased from a new hydropower plant currently under construction five miles from campus. The announcement is part of the University’s plan to get the research institution to 50% renewable power by 2030.

“As a research institution and community partner, we are committed to leading by example with sustainable practices that will help future generations thrive in a world that is environmentally responsible, socially equitable and economically robust,” says Greg Scott, senior vice chancellor for business and operations, in a report from Next Pittsburgh. In addition to generating power, the University plans to use the plant for a variety of research and educational activities for students studying environmental science.

The plant will take advantage of the existing Highland Park dam to create the powerful currents necessary to generate electricity. Allegheny County has more than a dozen smalls dams and reservoirs meant to control flooding along all three of our famous rivers. Jacob, along with other environmentalists, has been touting their potential for local renewable energy generation for many years.

“The university’s investment in local hydropower will benefit the campus, the region, and the local economy for generations to come,” said Paul Jacob, CEO of Rye Development, the company responsible for building the plant. The report noted the plant is able to take advantage of the existing Highland Park dam to create the powerful currents necessary to generate electricity. Allegheny County has more than a dozen smalls dams and reservoirs meant to control flooding along all three of its rivers.

Aurora Sharrard, the university’s director of sustainability, said the project is “a significant step toward meeting the University's sustainability goals.” The university has reduced GHG emissions by 22% from 2008 to 2017. “Since purchased electricity is the biggest contributor to the university’s greenhouse gas emissions, it remains a key target for conservation, efficiency and ongoing source changes.”

 

 

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