Penn State University

PSU Solar and Microgrid Storage Project

To aid in meeting their 2050 goal to reduce greenhouse gases, Penn State University installed a solar and microgrid storage system. To help facilitate this, SEF partnered with other capital investors to finance the installation of a 2 MW solar system. 

When the Penn State Sustainability Institute was founded in 2013, Penn State endeavored to bring together the sustainability efforts that many of the University’s teaching, research, outreach, and operations departments had been engaged in for many years prior.  Since then, Penn State set targets to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions compared to 2005 levels by 35% by 2020 and 85% by 2050.  The university is on track to surpass its 2020 goal and currently consumes the same amount of energy it did in 2003 despite adding more than 1 million square feet of building space to its campus.  Nearly 70% of Penn State’s Greenhouse Gas Emissions come from the energy they purchase from off-site generators and produce in their steam plant.

To aid in meeting their 2050 goal and to provide an educational and research and development (R&D) tool, Penn State installed a solar and microgrid storage system.  To help facilitate this, Sustainable Energy Fund (SEF) partnered with West Penn Power Sustainable Energy Fund and other capital investors to finance the installation of a 2 MW solar system at Penn State University.  The total cost of installing the system, which was installed and owned by Solar Sense PA II PSU LLC, a special purpose entity of Alternative Energy Development Group and MVE Group, was $4.48 million.  Sustainable Energy Fund provided a $1 million loan to Solar Sense PA II PSU LLC for completion of the project. 

Penn State has entered into a solar power purchase agreement (PPA) with Solar Sense PA II PSU, LLC in which it will purchase the electricity generated by the solar array from them at a fixed rate for the entirety of the contract period.  Solar Sense PA II PSU LLC will repay SEF via the revenue they generate from selling the electricity created from the solar array to Penn State.  Per an analysis conducted using the National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s PV Watts software, the solar system is expected to produce 2,421,485 kWh of electricity per year, or 1% of University Park’s needs.  This equates to 1,702 Metric tons of CO2 eliminated per year, which is the same as taking 386 passenger vehicles off the road for a year.