UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — A new project will provide 2,500 megawatt-hours of clean, reliable and affordable solar-generated energy annually to the University as part of its diversified energy portfolio. The Penn State Office of Physical Plant and Alternative Energy Development Group (AEDG) announced Sept. 19 the development of a 2 megawatt Advanced Utility-Scale Solar photovoltaic system.
“The Office of Physical Plant is thrilled to be part of yet another project that will provide clean, reliable and sustainable energy to the University,” said Steve Maruszewski, assistant vice president of the Office of Physical Plant and the lead Penn State project sponsor. “This installation provides the University with the ability to research and optimize multiple power generation sources on our micro-grid. It is a true living lab project that combines operations directly with teaching, research and outreach.”
Providing education and research — and electricity
The solar project will provide 1 percent of University Park’s campus electricity needs. Included in the project will be an educational kiosk supporting academic instruction and research, sharing real-time performance data of the array. In addition, the array also will offer Penn State opportunities to test future technological developments in the field.
“We see the new solar farm as an incredible opportunity to understand the impacts of solar development on landscapes and ecosystems, as well as for power production,” said Jeffrey Brownson, associate professor of Energy and Mineral Engineering in the Department of Energy and Mineral Engineering. “We have already begun involving student research and classes in the framework for this systems-based solar integration, called ‘solar ecology.’ Students are also excited to integrate our open-source sunlight monitoring techniques using Penn State 3D printing.”