Green | News

Lawrenceville School Builds 30-Acre Solar 'Farm'

New Jersey's Lawrenceville School has installed a 6.1-megawatt photovoltaic system that is expected to generate enough electricity to offset 90 percent of its annual power needs.

The private high school's system features 24,934 panels from SolarWorld mounted on single axis trackers and designed to produce approximately 9.264 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity each year. This is enough energy to power more than 800 "typical" American homes and offset 6,388 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions, the equivalent of taking 1,253 cars off the road annually, the company said. This is believed to be the largest such installation at any primary or secondary school in the United States, according to information released by SolarWorld.

The process for developing the 30-acre site and delivering electricity to facilities serving more than 800 students on the school's 700-acre campus followed several steps. It was developed by Linden, NJ-based Turtle and Hughes subsidiary TurtleEnergy, which was then purchased by KDC Solar, of Bedminster, NJ. KDC leased 30 acres of farmland from the school and owns and maintains all the solar equipment. It will sell electricity produced by the installation to the school at a fixed price for the next two decades.

"The school community will have access to a wealth of real-time monitoring information ranging from where the panels are currently positioned to how much power is being generated to how much energy a specific campus building is using, and much more," said Lawrenceville School Head Master Liz Duffy in a news release.

The solar project is part of the school's Green Campus holistic approach to sustainability that includes a focus on campus energy, materials, land and water use and will provide teachers and students "data to help build a healthier, more sustainable world," Duffy continued.

Not coincidentally, the 30-acre farm where the solar array is to be located is home to nearly 900,000 honey bees that are nourished by a special wildflower planted around the solar panels.

Aside from its environmental impact, the project stabilizes the school's energy costs for the duration of the 20-year lease.

For more information about the Lawrenceville School's Green Campus Initiative, visit lawrenceville.org.

About the Author

Jerry Bard is a freelance technology writer. He can be reached at jbard386@gmail.com.

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