Seattle University, WA Solar Power Project

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Seattle University, WA, US

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Type: Policy

Status: Initiated in 2005

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A joint effort between seniors in Mechanical Engineering, Facilities Services and Seattle City Light brought solar power to campus in summer 2005. The students determined the best location for the solar panels, sized the system, designed the mounting system and electrical connections and provided engineering support to Facilities who installed the system.

The installation consists of arrays mounted on the Student Center’s roof and south wall, and a tracking pole-mounted solar array. There is no battery storage and no net metering on these solar panels; the energy produced goes to the Student Center. The combined output of the three solar arrays produce enough electricity to power one energy-conserving home for a year. Real-time and historical solar electricity generated by SU’s solar panels is available online. To learn more, go to the student project page or this article.

The solar panels were funded by customer contributions to the Seattle City Light Green Power Program. The Green Power program is a customer-funded program that offers City Light business and residential customers the option to increase the development of new sources of renewable energy which includes solar projects.

For each kWh generated by the solar electric system, 1.32 pounds of carbon dioxide (CO2) are avoided, according to Seattle City Light estimates.

The solar panels help Seattle University achieve the following goals:

  • Demonstrate its continued commitment to reducing the school’s environmental impact
  • Expand the green building features of the new Student Center
  • Offer faculty a resource for including renewable energy in their course curriculums
  • Educate and promote awareness of solar power to the public, students and staff