University of Maryland announces 631 KW Solar Project


More than 2,600 solar panels will be installed on a University of Maryland building this summer, resulting in one of the largest rooftop solar power systems in Maryland.

The University of Maryland, College Park (UMD) was selected as a Maryland Energy Administration Project Sunburst Initiative Partner and awarded a grant aimed at promoting the installation of renewable energy systems on public buildings in Maryland. As a result of a competitive bid process, Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. (WGES) will finance the remainder of the project cost and UMD will purchase the electricity generated by the solar panels under a 20-year agreement with WGES.

By the second quarter of 2011, the solar power system will be installed and operating on the roof of UMD\’s Severn building, a multi-purpose facility located less than a mile from the College Park campus. The 631 kilowatt system, which will be installed by Standard Solar Inc. of Rockville, Md. and owned and operated by WGES, will produce about 792 megawatt hours of electricity each year.

\”The university is committed to addressing the significant challenges of this generation, including environmental sustainability, climate change, and renewable energy\”, said Ann Wylie, Vice President of Administrative Affairs and Chair of the University Sustainability Council. \”The use of solar energy – a clean energy source that produces no greenhouse gases – will move us another step closer to achieving our vision for a greener campus embodied in the university\’s strategic plan.\”

This solar project is the latest in a series of efforts the university has undertaken in an effort to achieve its goal to become \”widely recognized as a national model for a Green University.\” In 2007 UMD was one of 650 American colleges and universities that were signatories to the American College and University President\’s Climate Commitment. This commitment provides a framework and support for the nation\’s colleges and universities to eventually become carbon neutral. As a signatory, the University of Maryland is reducing its greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions from campus operations and moving toward the goal of carbon neutrality. Electricity from the solar panels will reduce UMD\’s carbon footprint by over 600 tons per year, the equivalent of eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from 64,000 gallons of gasoline per year, or nearly 1.3 million gallons over the life of the contract.

\”WGES has a long history of introducing renewable energy solutions for our customers,\” said Harry Warren, president of WGES of Herndon, Va. \”Our efforts to help customers find environmentally attractive solutions for their energy needs are bolstered by Maryland programs and policies that encourage, and in fact rely on, the competitive market to invest in these clean energy technologies. The University of Maryland project will bring our rapidly growing portfolio of owned and operated solar power projects on the east coast to about 4 megawatts.\”

\”We were thrilled to be able to bring much needed clean, renewable energy to the University of Maryland, College Park through this Project Sunburst grant,\” said Malcolm Woolf, Director of the Maryland Energy Administration. \”By investing in renewable energy resources UMD is helping Maryland achieve its Renewable Portfolio Standard goal of acquiring 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2022.\”

\”As the region\’s leading solar developer and installer, we look forward to our participation in this important project and contributing to UMD\’s effort to become a model for what it means to be a Green University,\” said Scott Wiater, president of Standard Solar.