University of Illinois to add second solar farm - Smart Energy Decisions

Energy Efficiency, Solar, Sourcing Renewables  -  December 12, 2018

University of Illinois to add second solar farm

The University of Illinois (UI) plans to add a second solar farm that is expected to help the campus meet its goal of generating 5% of its energy needs from renewable sources as part of the Illinois Climate Action Plan (iCap). The existing solar installation currently generates about 2% of campus use.

The Champaign/Urbana News-Gazette reported that University is issuing RFPs for a PPA for the 55-acre solar farm, noting that “As with the first one, private companies will bid to build it and then sell the energy to the university. The UI would have to pay no money up front but would pledge to buy the electricity at a fixed rate over a 10- or 20-year period, then purchase and operate the solar farm.”

Physics Professor Scott Willenbrock, who recently served as a provost’s fellow for sustainability said, "We will be second to none as far as campus solar generation goes," tied with or slightly ahead of the University of California-Davis, he said. "No one else is close. That's quite an achievement."

The site for the new solar farm was selected in June, in conjunction with the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences. While Willenbrock acknowledged the solar farm takes up "considerable land," which ACES officials have said is being used for crop production for the college, he argued that solar panels are a good use of the land, as they turn sunlight directly into energy. The new solar farm is expected to have plants throughout to support bees and other pollinators, as well as a buffer of plants or bushes to shield it from the road.

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