UMD increases renewable energy use with installation of solar panel canopies
The University of Maryland, in partnership with WGL Energy and the Maryland Energy Administration, recently completed the installation of three solar panel canopies at the Regents Drive, Terrapin Trail, and Mowatt Lane parking garages. The solar power generated from the project will amount to over 2 megawatts of renewable energy, helping the university to reach its goal laid out in the President’s Energy Initiatives, announced in April 2014.
“This two megawatt solar canopy installation, the first of its kind and by far the largest onsite installation on our campus, is a demonstration of UMD’s commitment to sustainability and resiliency,” said MaryAnn Ibeziako, director, Engineering & Energy. “This project will also serve as a living laboratory that will enable the faculty and students to gain a practical understanding of renewable energy as well as create the platform to innovative solutions around the rapidly evolving field of clean energy.”
The project was a cross departmental collaboration between the Department of Engineering & Energy in Facilities Management and the Department of Transportation Services. Facilities Management secured a $250,000 grant from the Maryland Energy Administration and matched funding for the grant. The Department of Transportation Services provided access to the parking garages and worked closely with Facilities Management who coordinated the construction of the canopies by WGL Energy Systems, the owner and operator of the solar project, utilizing the design and construction management services of SGC Power.
“The Department of Transportation Services is excited about this project because it sends the right message about our commitment to sustainability and finding opportunities for cross-campus collaboration,” said Valerie Goubeau, assistant director, Department of Transportation Services. “We’re also pleased that the canopies have created a more pleasant parking environment in the garages.”
UMD is dedicated to the President's Purchased Power Initiative, an area of the Climate Action Plan that aims to ensure 100 percent of purchased power comes from renewable sources by 2020. Over the term of the power purchase agreement (PPA) with WGL Energy, the energy produced by the canopies, which are metal beams supporting mounted solar panels, will combine with the energy generated by solar panels at UMD’s Severn Building and the Institute for Bioscience and Biotechnology Research (IBBR) to provide a total of 3,941,000 kilowatt hours (kWh) of renewable energy annually. The system at IBBR is expected to be operational by December while the three parking garage systems at College Park commenced operation on September 18, 2017.
"WGL is proud to be involved in developing an innovative solar facility collaboratively with the University of Maryland and an outstanding group of project partners including the university’s energy leadership team," said Sanjiv Mahan, president of WGL Energy. "We continue our commitment to deliver diverse energy answers from across the energy spectrum that stabilize the energy spend for our customers, improve campus life and enhance the local community."
On Wednesday, October 11, the university celebrated the solar panel canopy installation with a dedication event at the Regents Drive Garage rooftop.
"Investing in renewable energy is a huge win for the State because we are creating jobs, supporting economic growth via electricity bill reduction, and addressing environmental concerns shared by all Marylanders," said Director Mary Beth Tung, Maryland Energy Administration.