For the past ten years, students at Stonehill College have been asking for ways to make the campus more “green” and energy efficient.
Fifteen acres and 9,152 solar panels later, those students have their answer.
This past year, the school completed its 2.7 megawatt solar farm, which is located across from the main campus at the David Ames Clock Farm. The solar panels stretch over 15 acres of the 60 acre farm property, and make up the largest solar field in New England, according to the Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education.
Prior to going solar, Stonehill used 15,974,455 kilowatts per hour in electricity alone back in FY13. That racked the college’s electric bill up to $2,002,551. The solar field is expected to save the college over $185,000 per year, and up to $3.2 million over the course of its 15-year contract with Marina Energy, which covered the project costs.
Craig Binney, Associate Vice President for finance and operations, says that prior to the solar panels, Stonehill relied on regular electric projects (such as converting oil to gas) to power campus.
“We’ve gotten lots of ideas from our students [for going green],” Binney says. “We’ve taken the ball and evolved it and implemented it.”
To get the solar project rolling, Binney says that Stonehill leased the land on the David Ames Clock Farm to Marina Energy; during the course of each year, Stonehill will purchase its electricity back from Marina Energy at a reduced rate. Solect Energy, a commercial solar energy project developer, built the solar field, while Power Management, an energy consulting firm, managed the project.
Scott Howe, a minority partner of Solect Energy and vice president of business development, said that as the demand for solar power grows, the anatomy of solar panels is changing.
“As the technology continues to grow, they make the cells within the panels more efficient,” he says. “The panels [themselves] are made similar to as they are now, with solar cells made into a rectangular pattern pressed between glass.”
Take a quick tour of Stonehill College’s 15 acre solar farm:
Read the full article about Stonehill’s solar farm on Commercial Integrator sister site, HigherEdTechDecisions.com.