GEM Energy, of the Rudolph Libbe Group in Walbridge, Ohio, is starting construction on the second phase of Ohio Northern University’s solar initiative with a 1-MW solar array. The first phase, a 2-MW array, was completed in early 2017.
Together, the two solar arrays will generate a total 15% of ONU’s electricity needs, reducing the university’s carbon footprint by over 3,300 tons, equal to 315 average households.
Under a 25-year power purchase agreement, ONU will purchase electricity directly from both solar arrays without needing to invest capital in design, construction and maintenance.
The Phase II array will utilize SMA string inverters and will add another 3,034 solar panels to the 18,000 panels in the Phase I array. The second solar array, like the first, will include a single-axis tracker that moves panels to follow the sun, allowing maximum solar harvest. The two solar arrays will be located on adjacent ONU-owned properties southwest of campus.
GEM Energy, which also developed the Phase I array, will design, construct, operate and maintain the Phase II ground-mounted solar array. GEM Energy’s partner companies, Rudolph Libbe Inc. and GEM Inc., will perform site and electrical work, and install the trackers. Construction on the new array will be complete in late April 2018.
ONU will include both solar arrays in its renewable energy curriculum. The program is led by GEM Energy and includes student involvement.
“The Phase I solar array project has been a success in increasing the University’s overall sustainability efforts, and we are glad to enhance that success by expanding the size of the solar array with this Phase II project,” Ohio Northern University President Daniel A. DiBiasio said. “This effort has helped reduce energy costs and broaden the University’s commitment to renewable energy.”
“Ohio Northern is an experienced and committed champion of clean energy projects. We were honored to help the university reach its goals with the first solar array, and we’re pleased that Ohio Northern considers us a trusted partner on a second solar project with them,” said Jason Slattery, GEM Energy’s director of solar.
ONU’s current sustainable initiatives
- Mathile Center for the Natural Sciences and The Inn at Ohio Northern University are equipped with high-efficiency water heaters, HVAC systems and lighting; low-flow fixtures; and dual or automatic flushing toilets.
- ONU uses a fleet of hybrid and electric campus vehicles and two electric vehicle charging stations.
- An analysis has targeted 10 ONU buildings for energy efficiency improvements.
- In 2009, a geothermal heating and cooling system was installed to serve the Founders Complex and Affinity Village. In all, 30 percent of ONU’s housing features geothermal, earth-friendly technology.
- Since 2010, three 220-foot-tall wind turbines have been generating 1.2 megawatts of power, meeting 8-9 percent of ONU’s electricity needs.
- In 2015, ONU became a 100 percent tobacco-free campus.
- ONU has cut its landfill waste in half, and in conjunction with Allied Waste Haulers, the university is funding a recycling program at Ada Schools.
- Since 2009, ONU has been recognized as a Tree Campus USA.
- A grassy area surrounding the retention basin has been planted with native vegetation to provide a habitat for bees and eliminate the need for mowing.
- The Affinity Gardens project has transformed the green space at ONU’s Affinity Village into a garden where student organizations grow organic produce for the Ada Food Pantry and the ReStore Community Center.
News item from GEM Energy