University of Maryland Unveils 631kW Rooftop Solar Power System

The University of Maryland (UMD) has officially unveiled a rooftop solar power system installed on a campus building consisting of 2,600 solar panels.
    
The solar array is installed on the roof of the University’s Severn Building. The system will produce approximately 792 megawatt-hours of clean electricity annually, enough energy to power 73 U.S. homes.
     
The 631 kilowatt array was financed in part by a state grant program called the Sunburst Initiative, implemented to promote installation of renewable energy systems on public buildings in Maryland. Washington Gas Energy Services, Inc. (WGES) picked up the tab for the remainder of the costs. The University will buy the electricity generated by the solar panels under a 20-year agreement with WGES. 
    
The University has entered into a number of other clean power purchase agreements, including a 15 megawatt solar project at Mount St. Mary’s University, a 10 megawatt wind farm in western Maryland and a 55 megawatt wind project in West Virginia.
    
UMD says it purchased 66,000 megawatt-hours of Renewable Energy Credits in 2010, which puts the institution at number 8 on the US EPA’s rankings of Green Power Purchasers.
   
Students at the university have also designed and built a solar house called Watershed, which is an entrant in the U.S. Department of Energy Solar Decathlon this year. WaterShed is a solar-powered home comprised of two rectangular modules capped by a split-butterfly roof designed to maximise capture and usage of sunlight and rainwater. Watershed’s photovoltaic array harvests enough energy from the sun to power the house year-round.
    
The University of Maryland is a major public research university located on 1,250 acres on the Baltimore-Washington, D.C. corridor. Among its other green initiatives are numerous storm water projects including bioretention systems and two 10,000 gallon rainwater catchment cisterns. The campus recycling rate has been lifted from 17% in 2003 to 63% in 2010.
   
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