US universities and colleges are going solar in a big way, according to the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE), increasing their installed capacity 450% in the last three years.
There is now 137 MW of solar power installed on US campuses, just over 5% of the US total of 956 MW.
Leading the field in AASHE’s new database of campus solar photovoltaic installations is Mercer County Community College in New Jersey with 1 MW. Arizona and Colorado State Universities also feature in the top ten.
AASHE puts the growth of the sector, which is now worth over $300 million, down to falling solar costs and new financing mechanisms.
But a new effort is bringing together 32 US universities in a $65 million energy efficiency financing initiative.
The Billion Dollar Green Challenge aims to encourage colleges, universities and other organisations to invest a total of $1 billion in self-managed ‘green revolving funds’ to invest in energy efficiency upgrades.
The scheme will offer technical assistance, best practices, a web-based management tool for each institution’s fund and examples of successful campus energy efficiency projects.
“We’re transforming energy efficiency upgrades from perceived expenses to high-return investment opportunities,” says Mark Orlowski, executive director of the Sustainable Endowments Institute (SEI), which is coordinating The Challenge along with 15 partners.
Arizona State University is among the partners, along with Harvard, Stanford and Caltech. The effort is being backed by private investors and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership.
For further information:
US loan guarantee scheme goes out in a $5 billion blaze of glory (7-Oct)
US Department of Energy backs more solar projects (30-Sept)
US government backs Abengoa’s solar project with $1.2 billion loan guarantee (19-Sept)
17 October 2011