Princeton Plans Massive Solar Field

02/04/2011 08:26 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Princeton University will soon be home to the college world's largest solar collector field, the Daily Princetonian reports.

Planned to be built on 27 acres of Princeton land by 2012, the field is predicted to reduce the school's energy costs by 8 percent. The field will be composed of 16,500 photovoltaic panels, creating enough energy to fuel 700 households.

The Times of Trenton has more on the field's potential power:

A field that size could generate 8 million kilowatt-hours per year, or enough to cover 5.5 percent of the campus' total electricity needs based on an annual average, according to SunPower Corp., the company slated to build the system.

However, on a summer day when the sun is shining brightest, and the electric load is highest at the school, the field could provide as much as 20 percent of campus power in a given hour, said Michael McKay, Princeton's vice president for facilities.

According to the Princetonian, the field will be financed by a "groundbreaking" funding model:

[The university] will partly pay for the solar collector field under the New Jersey's Solar Renewable Energy Certificate program, through which the state will issue one SREC to the University for every 1,000 kilowatt-hours of solar energy it generates, until 2020.

The university will sell the credits to a utility company to help offset the costs of the project until 2020, after which it will retire the credits by ceasing to sell them in order to help reduce carbon dioxide emission levels.

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