CU-Boulder boosts solar generation to 1 megawatt

CU Boulder arrayThe University of Colorado Boulder recently completed a new 500-kilowatt solar photovoltaic array, doubling the amount of solar power the school generates on campus. The new array brings its total amount of on-campus solar generation to more than 900 kilowatts.

“This project complements and extends our commitment to leveraging solar energy throughout campus to provide power in a low-cost and responsible manner,” said Moe Tabrizi, CU-Boulder campus sustainability director. It’s also part of a bigger effort at the campus to reduce its energy use by 20 percent by 2020.

The new array is a first for the CU campus because it’s a ground-mount array and larger than any of its other solar arrays, which have been mounted on rooftops or over parking structures.

Prior to the new ground mount facility, CU-Boulder had photovoltaics at 10 other campus places, including the Coors Events Center, the Center for Community, the University Memorial Center and the Wolf Law Building.

The new array, located on 2.5 acres near the Foothills Parkway and Colorado Avenue, is expected to produce 725,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually. It will provide on campus energy, while reducing the school’s energy bills. The array was financed from state and Xcel Energy rebates and incentives via a third-party ownership contract. Under the agreement, CU-Boulder could purchase the array at a discounted rate in 7 years.

The array makes CU-Boulder one of the larger institutions in Colorado with solar arrays, but it is out shined by its sister and sometimes rival, Colorado State University. That institution has a 5.3 megawatt installation at its Foothills Campus. The array is able to provide roughly one-third of the facility’s electric needs. The university also has a number of arrays on its main campus in Fort Collins, but not as much as CU-Boulder now has on its campus. 

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