Cal Poly, part of the California State University system, has this week dedicated a 4.5 megawatt solar farm that will serve to provide 25% of the university’s electricity needs, result in millions worth of savings, and provide on-site experience for its students.
The new 4.5 MW (megawatt) single-axis solar farm was dedicated on Wednesday at a ceremony at the 18.5-acre site, which is made up of over 16,000 solar panels that will generate more than 11 million kWh per year, enough to provide the equivalent electricity necessary to power more than 1,000 homes, but which will actually serve approximately 25% of Cal Poly’s needs.
Cal Poly is a nationally ranked, four-year, comprehensive polytechnic public university located in San Luis Obispo, California, and has made a name for itself through its Learn by Doing approach to study. With the advent of its new solar farm, students will now be able to experience hands-on experience with the solar farm. The university also designed a solar engineering and microgrid laboratory in the Electric Engineering building so that students can conduct experiments with solar technology.
“We applaud Cal Poly’s creativity in leveraging the system to inspire research in sustainability for years to come,” said Matt Walz, CEO of REC Solar, which was contracted to design, construct, and maintain the solar facility. “REC Solar is privileged to be a part of the university’s sustainability journey.”
REC Solar is a Duke Energy-owned company and leading provider of solar solutions for educational institutions and has more than 100 completed solar projects that together generate more than 30 MW. To bring the whole thing full circle, REC Solar was also founded by Cal Poly graduates. The company is also partnering with Cal Poly to provide funds for students and faculty involvement in the project, design a curriculum that meets Cal Poly’s sustainability learning objectives and serves to educate further renewable energy professionals, and will also be collaborating on applied research.
“This is a huge step toward our goal of climate neutrality, and we are very excited about using this new facility to support students’ hands-on learning,” said Dennis Elliot, the university’s director of energy, utilities and sustainability.