In Spring 2016, the University of Richmond completed installation of a 204.8 kW solar array on the roof of the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness. 749 panels cover roughly 22,000 square feet of the rooftop. Seventy-six percent of the panels will be bifacial, allowing them to collect direct solar energy from the front and ambient energy from the back. This solar photovoltaic system will generate an estimated 237,000 kilowatt hours of electricity each year, roughly equivalent to the energy needed to power 22 homes. Over the course of a year, the system will have the potential to offset 364,000 lbs. of carbon dioxide.
The University of Richmond partnered with Secure Futures, a solar energy development company, under the Virginia Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Pilot Program. The project at the University of Richmond is the first solar installation in the state made under the PPA, which is an important financial instrument for solar energy development. According to the PPA, Secure Futures will install, maintain, and own the solar photovoltaic array on top of the Weinstein Center. The company will sell the energy generated by the photovoltaic system to the University at a fixed rate over a period of 20 years.
A celebration for the installation of the solar array was held on Tuesday, April 19, at 9:30 a.m. on the Robins Center patio. Governor Terry McAuliffe, UR President Ronald Crutcher, Secure Futures President Tony Smith, and Zoe Kolberg-Shuler, '18, offered remarks at the ribbon cutting ceremony.
As signatories in the American Colleges and Universities Presidential Climate Commitment, the University of Richmond has committed to measuring its carbon footprint and developing a plan to reach climate neutrality. The University’s Climate Action Plan, which was approved by the Board of Trustees in 2010, created a goal of reducing carbon emissions over 2008 levels by 30% in 2020, and achieving carbon neutrality by 2050.
In support of these initiatives, the University has piloted renewable energy installations. In 2011, a two kilowatt photovoltaic solar array was installed on the 1800 block of the University Forest Apartments. A solar water heater was installed on an adjacent apartment, which allowed for a side-by-side comparison between two different types of solar energy. Additionally, the University invests in the EPA’s Green Power Partnership, and accounts for 10% of it’s annual energy use through purchasing Renewable Energy Credits and Green Power.
The Office for Sustainability is now offering educational tours of the Weinstein Center's solar array. During the 20 minute tour, participants get an overview of how solar works, what is unique about our solar array, and why this array is important for the University's carbon neutrality goals.
To schedule a tour please email Alice Allan, the Office for Sustainability's Energy Intern, at least two weeks before you would like to take a tour. The entire tour is outdoors, so please dress for the weather.