Case Studies:

University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science

  • System Specs | 2,869 kW
  • System Production | The 11,000 module solar field and carport will produce nearly 55% of the electricity needs of the Horn Point Laboratory. 
  • Environmental Benefits |

Practicing What They Preach

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) was able to take significant steps toward achieving its greenhouse-gas reduction goals thanks to the ownership and in-house financing abilities of Standard Solar.

When your name includes the words “Center for Environmental Science,” it’s incumbent on you to be a role model for the surrounding community, instituting as many environmentally friendly programs as you can.

That’s why the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) felt compelled to sign the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which required them to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at their facilities. While the school implemented several programs to move them toward those goals, they wanted to do more.

That’s when the center’s leaders lighted on the idea of building a 10-acre solar field next to its Horn Point Laboratory.

“Higher education has a key role in shaping a sustainable society,” said Don Boesch, former UMCES president and driver of its sustainability programs since 2008. “It’s essential that we lead by example.”

 

Where To Start?

Boesch and his team realized early on they wouldn’t be able to do this project on their own. They needed a partner that had the capabilities to walk them through the process from beginning to end, starting with financing and ending with ownership.

With more than $300 million in financing capital available, Standard Solar didn’t have to look any further than its own offices to find the money to make UMCES’ project possible. And as a partner that could own and operate the facility, the university could stop worrying and just focus on the electricity savings the laboratory would enjoy as a result of the solar field.

“We try to make working with us as easy as possible, something we’re able to do because of our unusual ability to handle a project from financing through ownership and beyond,” said Scott Wiater, president and CEO of Standard Solar. “And when we can help an educational facility—and one in our own state no less—we are thrilled.”

Standard Solar also shepherded the center through the process to get a grant from the Maryland Energy Administration to install the solar-powered carports, combined with charging stations for electric vehicles. 

The company broke ground on the project in September 2017 and the field was put into operation the following March.

 

Environmental Sustainability Enhanced

The 11,000 module solar field and carport will produce nearly 55% of the electricity needs of the Horn Point Laboratory. The solar project provides the UMCES a good position to continue its work in achieving its American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment goals. 

“The solar field is another example of how we are using innovative ways to manage Horn Point Laboratory in a way that reduces our environmental footprint and engages with the community,” said Mike Roman, director of the Horn Point Laboratory. 

Higher education has a key role in shaping a sustainable society, especially for institutions devoted to leading the way to combat climate change and moving the clean-energy economy forward. That’s why the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) signed the American College & University Presidents’ Climate Commitment, which required them to set goals for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions at each of its laboratories.

One way they decided to do that was to offset their electricity consumption with onsite renewable energy. UMCES repurposed a field to build a solar array on 10 acres adjoining its Horn Point Laboratory.

The center needed a partner that could handle the project from finding financing to operations-and-maintenance. Fortunately, they had exactly such a partner practically in their backyard—Standard Solar. With its $300 million in financing capacity, as well as vast experience in university installations, Standard Solar was perfectly positioned to finance, install, own and operate the 10-acre solar field and carport system.

At nearly 3MW, the ground system is expected to generate more than 4,000 MWh in the first year and will be managed under a 20-year power-purchase agreement (PPA) with Standard Solar. In addition, a solar carport adds 200MWh, with parking for 30 cars and four EV charging stations. Standard Solar installed and will continue to operate the system, while UMCES will purchase the electricity produced from the array. 

The arrays will provide approximately 55% of the electricity needed to power the school’s Horn Point Laboratory. Utilizing Maryland’s Aggregate Net Energy Metering (ANEM) policy, UMCES will be offsetting about a dozen on campus meters.

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