RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Thanks to a new project, the University of Richmond will now offset their electricity usage with solar energy from a single power source. Richmond is only the second university in the entire country to introduce a project like this and the first in the southeast region.
The university will continue using electricity but will be lessening their carbon footprint by introducing solar energy to the region’s electric grid.
According to a release from UR, the solar power will be entering the grid from a project called Spider Solar, a 20-megawatt solar energy facility. It replenishes the electric grid with the same amount of energy that the campus uses each day.
The university says there are 47,000 solar panels at the Spider Solar facility which produce 41,000 megawatt-hours of solar energy each year which is enough to power 5,000 homes and neutralize 19,720 metric tons of carbon each year.
“The University pledged in 2015 to accelerate its transition to low-carbon energy while enhancing sustainable and resilient practices across our campus,” said Director of Sustainability Rob Andrejewski. “With Spider Solar now online, UR’s greenhouse gas emissions will be 57% below where they were in 2009, putting us in a great position to aim for carbon neutrality.”
The solar panels are located in Spottsylvania County and are operated by a clean energy business called AES.
“Through a purchase power agreement, AES will manage the day-to-day operations of the solar array, and UR agrees to pay a fixed price for the renewable energy it creates,” said Mark Detterick, UR’s senior associate vice president of campus operations. “By doing so, UR will be directly responsible for introducing more renewable energy onto the grid and be able to better predict the University’s utility expenses, all without the costs associated with owning or operating a large solar facility.”
Richmond first started installing solar panels to replenish the energy grid in 2016 when 749 panels were added to the roof of the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness.