Brown goes green with a 50 MW solar project (w/ video)


Another week, another university looking to neutralize its greenhouse gas emissions by turning to solar. This week, it is Rhode Island’s Ivy League institution, Brown University, which has announced plans to construct a 50 MWdc solar facility in the southern part of the state.

The project will be carried out by  Constellation and Providence-based Energy Development Partners (EDP). EDP plans to purchase the land and develop the site with Constellation, while Constellation will maintain ownership of the solar arrays. Constellation and Brown will lease the land together and Brown will obtain the renewable energy credits.

Upon completion, the plant could not only make its claim as Rhode Island’s largest single-site  solar generation project, but will be able to offset roughly 70% of Brown’s annual electricity consumption.

The project has been exponentially assisted in construction potential due to its location. The site will be located on a 240-acre field on top of a former gravel pit. This placement subverts the issues of encroachment on neighborhoods or large-scale tree-clearing, two potential roadblocks to development.

The 50 MWdc capacity will deliver 40 MWac of power once converted. Additionally, the remaining 8 MW of renewable energy to be sourced will come from a wind project being developed in Texas and is expected to complete the offsetting of Brown’s annual use. In conjunction with one another, these two projects will easily hit the university’s goal of cutting on-campus greenhouse gas emissions by 42% below 2007 levels by the year 2020.

The solar project could also provide a meaningful contribution towards Rhode Island’s goal of increasing the renewable capacity of the state to 1,000 megawatts by 2020 – if it is completed in time.

This is not EDP’s first partnership with Brown. The two already partnered on a number of smaller, on-campus renewable-energy initiatives. Additionally, a $200,000 grant from EDP will fund student research in renewable energy at the University’s School of Engineering.

As it stands, this project isn’t even in it’s infancy, it’s just a step past conception. There has not yet been a timeframe set for groundbreaking or construction, which means that other details like the company of choice for panels, racking, inverters, etc. have yet to be decided.

Below is drone video of the site:

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