University of Richmond matches its energy needs with solar


The University of Richmond has become the second higher education institution in the country, alongside Massachusetts’ Hampshire College, to match its electricity usage with a single solar power source, with the completion of the Spider Solar project.

Built by sPower, which merged with AES’ clean energy business early this year, Spider Solar is a 20 MW installation in Spotsylvania County, Virginia. The 47,000-panel array began operating at the end of 2020. The university it will offset up to 60% of the institution’s greenhouse gas emissions.

Energy generated by Spider is acquired by the university through a power purchase agreement (PPA) with sPower.

Spider Solar is also one of the integral pieces in sPower’s larger 500 MW project in Spotsylvania County. In total, the project contains four interconnected phases:  Spider Solar (20 MW), Pleinmont Solar 1 (75 MW), Pleinmont Solar 2 (240 MW), and Highlander Solar Energy Station 1 (165 MW).

Spider Solar is the university’s second PPA. In 2016, the university built the first solar array in the Commonwealth under Virginia’s PPA pilot program, installing 749 solar panels on the roof of the Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness.

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