University of Pittsburgh to Build 20MW Solar Farm

The University of Pittsburgh recently began construction on a 20-megawatt solar farm that, once complete, will provide 100 percent of its electricity to the campus for the next twenty years, according to a university news release. The Gaucho Solar project will cover 68 acres near the Pittsburgh International Airport, use more than 55,000 solar panels, and is scheduled for completion in 2023.

The farm is estimated to produce about 35,700 megawatt-hours of electricity per year, or about 18 percent of the campus’ annual energy use. In conjunction with the university’s commitment to hydropower solutions, about 42 percent of the campus’ future electricity use will come from local, renewable sources, the news release reports.

The university is partnering with Vesper Energy to make the project a reality. The contract terms dictate that the university will directly purchase clean energy with no upfront capital or maintenance costs, as well as provide price certainty for the duration of the contract.

“The University of Pittsburgh is fully committed to achieving carbon neutrality for our Pittsburgh campus by 2037, with local, renewable energy getting us one-third of the way there,” said Aurora Sharrard, University of Pittsburgh executive director of sustainability. “We are very excited for Vesper’s Gaucho Solar facility to be the largest contributing renewable asset to date for the university’s goals of producing or procuring 50 percent of our total Pittsburgh campus electricity from renewables by 2030 and 100 percent by 2037.”

The solar farm will also feature pollinator-friendly landscaping and an observation area for educational use.

Vesper Energy is proud to partner with the University of Pittsburgh to help achieve their goal of 100 percent renewable electricity powering the campus,” said Vesper Energy CEO Craig Carson. “Gaucho Solar is our first project to reach construction in the Keystone State. With great partners like the University of Pittsburgh, we plan to bring more clean energy projects online in Pennsylvania in the near future.”

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning. He can be reached at [email protected].