Lewisburg, Pa. – More than a decade of work paid off Thursday in the form of a new solar field on Bucknell’s campus that will provide about 10% of the university’s energy.
Bucknell began initial discussions for a major solar project back in 2009.
Left to right: Victor Udo, Bucknell’s director of sustainability; John Bravman, president of Bucknell; and Chad Farrell, Bucknell class of ’92 and CEO of Encore Renewable Energy.
According to Bucknell President John Bravman, the solar field will provide 1.76 megawatts of energy, or 7% of the university’s total energy consumption.
According to Encore Renewable Energy, the supplier of the project, the expected life of the solar array is 30 years.
The solar array location is designed to provide primary solar exposure, featuring south-facing panels tilted 25 to 35 degrees at a maximum height of nine feet.
This solar array is part of Bucknell’s goal to reach carbon neutrality by 2030, as outlined in the university’s sustainability plan. Other ways Bucknell is working toward its goal of carbon neutrality include the ongoing transition of campus lighting to more sustainable LEDs and the Bison Bike program, which provides free bicycles to students.
The campus also has designated parking spaces for “low-emission vehicles” and two electric vehicle charging stations, including one two-port ChargePoint station open to the public and one Tesla dedicated station.
As part of the project, “pollinator-friendly” vegetation was planted between the panels to attract bees and butterflies to the area. The university plans to use sheep to maintain the grass around the panels.
Bravman said during the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the solar sites that “the future of today wasn’t always clear” since they started exploring solar energy more than a decade ago.
Jim Knight, Bucknell’s project manager, said the university has been looking to complete a major solar project since 2009.
Bravman’s sentiments were echoed by Bucknell Project Manager and East Buffalo Township Supervisor Jim Knight.
Since 2009, numerous solar projects have been proposed from other companies, but those companies have “just talked” and never delivered, Knight said.
Knight said the university doesn’t have the same problem with Encore, which “never bounces back from setbacks.”
According to Bravman, the project is a sign of how serious Bucknell is about the future of renewable energy.
Encore CEO and Bucknell alumni Chad Farrell said the project shows the university is “leading the way in clean energy for higher education.”
“[The project] delivers energy efficiently and affordably,” Farrell said.
Farrell also noted the educational opportunities the solar field can provide students as they seek to develop skills for the future of the energy industry.
Bucknell sophomore and climate advocate Colton Jiorle spoke about the importance of the project in helping Bucknell achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.
Bucknell sophomore and clean energy advocate Colton Jiorle said the project is an example of Bucknell “leading the way” in offering educational opportunities for renewable energy.
“This is a step forward in reducing Bucknell’s carbon footprint,” Jiorle said. “Carbon neutrality still has a long way to go, but it is achievable.”
On Oct. 6, Bucknell hosted a ribbon-cutting ceremony for its new array of solar panels.
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