The University of Pittsburgh and Vesper Energy, a renewable energy developer from Dallas, cut the ribbon on the Gaucho Solar project. Built on 68 acres on the border of Findlay Township and Independence Township in Pennsylvania, the 20-MW solar project is one of the largest in Western Pennsylvania, with about 55,000 solar panels generating electricity. The solar farm was installed near Pittsburgh International Airport.
The project was constructed by Vesper Energy, which arranged a power purchase agreement with the University of Pittsburgh for total output of the project for the 20 years. It is expected to provide approximately 18% of the campus’ electricity usage per year, supporting Pitt’s reach its goal to achieve campus carbon neutrality by 2037.
“The Vesper team is extremely proud to be a part of bringing Pitt’s sustainability vision to life,” said Craig Carson, CEO of Vesper Energy. “Projects and partnerships like this are a critical part of the global energy transition which relies on secure and stable clean energy production. What we can create and achieve is exponential when we work together for the greater good.”
The Gaucho Solar project will produce more than 35,700 MWh of electricity annually. Combined with plans to use local hydropower, at least 42% of Pitt’s electricity will come from dedicated, local, renewable energy sources.
The Gaucho Solar project will also save the university millions of dollars over the contract term due to solar’s low comparative cost. The ability to directly purchase clean energy will generate long-term cost and environmental savings, require no upfront capital or maintenance costs from Pitt, and give the university price certainty throughout the contract.
“The University of Pittsburgh is fully committed to achieving carbon neutrality for our Pittsburgh campus by 2037, with our current and future renewable electricity commitments getting us over one-third of the way there,” said Aurora Sharrard, executive director of sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh. “We are very excited that Vesper’s Gaucho Solar facility is the newest and largest renewable asset to-date contributing to the University’s goals of producing or procuring 100% of our electricity from renewables by 2037.”
Students had learning opportunities throughout the construction process and the facility will be incorporated into the school’s curriculum, providing educational opportunities for students today and into the future. The pollinator-friendly landscaping has an important environmental impact beyond the site, improving water quality, reducing erosion and creating critical habitat and food for birds, bees, butterflies and other beneficial insects.
News item from Vesper Energy