Anne Arundel Community College
- System Specs | 753 kW
- System Production | 900 MWh annually
- Environmental Benefits | Equivalent to eliminating greenhouse gas emissions from more than 77,000 gallons of gasoline per year
Anne Arundel Community College (AACC) will save more than $300,000 on energy costs during the next 15 years, thanks to the investment the college has made in a solar electricity system installed on a campus parking lot. In a move funded partly by the Maryland Energy Authority’s (MEA) Project Sunburst, the college has utilized solar panels on the space atop Parking Lot B to generate approximately nine hundred megawatt hours (MWh) of electricity or more a year, enough to power 90 average-sized homes.
AACC needed two things in order to reap the advantages of a solar electric system—financing to pay for the system and a location for the more than 3,100 solar panels needed to offset some of the power for the campus “plant” building. With space already at a premium on the campus, it was imperative that the PV system not reduce any usable real estate and so a carport structure was chosen. Various sites were considered including rooftops, taking into consideration each site’s impact on the campus and its students and faculty.
Standard Solar won the project due to their expertise with providing turnkey solar solutions for education, commercial and utility clients including Catholic and American Universities, the University of Delaware, the US Department of Energy and the Rockville Blades ice skating facility.
AACC applied for and won a grant from the MEA, made possible through funding from the Federal American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). The grant helped to offset some of the financing for the system. In order to make the project financially feasible for the college, Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. (WGES) provided the balance of the cost of the installation through a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA). The college will purchase the energy produced by the system from WGES at a competitive rate.
The entire PV system is installed directly on top of Parking Lot B on campus using a Protek Park PV canopy system. This system consists of more than 3,100 “Buy American” compliant Suniva solar panels. The placement of the system eliminates the need for space on the ground—always at a premium on college campuses—and puts the vacant space above a parking lot to good use.
AACC’s system is expected to generate approximately 900 MWh of electricity in its first year of operations, enough to power 90 average homes. At an assumption of a 5% increase yearly for electricity costs, the system is projected to save the college more than $300,000 over the next 15 years. If electricity costs increase more than 5% yearly, the college will be saving even more.