Tufts’ earliest clean energy installation dates back to 1999 with 500 Watts of photovoltaics on Fairmont House, a small campus residence hall. In 2000, a supplemental solar thermal system was installed at Schmalz House, another small campus residence hall. In 2006, Tufts’ newest residence hall, Sophia Gordon Hall, included a solar thermal supplemental domestic hot water system and a 23.8 kW photovoltaic system. In 2014, a 99 kW solar array was added to Dowling Hall. To date, it has generated 185,000 kilowatt hours. After a 2010 feasibility study of Tufts’ Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine in Grafton showed that wind power was not practical, the university pursued other renewable options. Just this past September (2015), through PowerOption’s Large Scale Solar program, construction began on two ground-mounted photovoltaic systems on the Grafton campus.
Tufts currently maintains six solar arrays that make the power grid greener and help Tufts save money. Solar generated power is about 60 percent less expensive than electricity from the National Grid.
Tufts funds solar installations in three ways: capital expenditure, grants, and Power Purchase Agreements. Power Purchase Agreements (PPA) are contracts in which a developer funds the purchase and installation of a solar energy system, then sells the Renewable Energy Credits (RECs) generated by that system. Typically in Massachusetts, these RECs are sold to the utility company so they can meet the state's renewable portfolio standard (RPS), which requires them to obtain a percentage of their electricity from qualifying renewable energy facilities. In all cases where Tufts funded a solar project through a PPA, Tufts did not retain the RECs and therefore cannot claim the greenhouse gas emissions reduction from those projects.
Keep reading to learn where each solar array at Tufts is located, when it was installed, how it was funded, and how much energy it produces.
Year Installed: Construction for this project began in 2015. The panels were activated in 2017.
Power Produced: 2700 kWh annually with 6 kWh of battery storage (enough to power 1,000 phones!). This is a Tufts Energy Group project that charges student electronic devices on the patio and common room.
Power Produced: 23.8 kW (25,000 kWh annually)
SoGo solar reduces approximately 17.7 Metric tons carbon dioxide equivalent emissions per year,
which is equal to 2 homes' energy use each year.
Calculated with the Greenhouse Gas Equivalencies