Catholic Standard El Pregonero
Classifieds Buy Photos

CUA ‘powers on’ 7.5 megawatt West Campus Solar Array

The Catholic University of America’s 7.5 megawatt (MW) West Campus Solar Array, the largest urban ground-mount community solar array in the United States, is seen in the foreground of this picture. The Solar Array was “powered on” during a June 3 ceremony at the university. (Photo courtesy of CUA)

During a June 3 “Powering On” ceremony, The Catholic University of America unveiled its latest advancement toward environmental sustainability – the successful completion of the 7.5 megawatt (MW) West Campus Solar Array, believed to be the largest urban ground-mount community solar array in the United States.

Developed in collaboration with Standard Solar, a commercial and community solar developer and asset owner based in Rockville, Maryland, this initiative makes a step towards an eco-friendly future for the university and the broader district community. The solar array will contributes significantly to the District’s goal of achieving 100 percent renewable energy by 2032 and carbon neutrality by 2050.

Speakers at the celebration event included Peter Kilpatrick, Catholic University president; Scott Wiater, president and CEO of Standard Solar; Nicole Steele, senior advisor for equity and workforce at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Energy Technologies Office; Jack McDougle, president and CEO of the Greater Washington Board of Trade; and Steve Farole, president of the Brookland Neighborhood Civic Association (BNCA).

Situated in the heart of Washington, D.C., the West Campus Solar Array will be fully operational this summer. Plans had been in the works to turn part of the little-used 40-acre parcel of land into a parking lot, but instead, it will now host a field of 42 rows of solar panels that provide 10,000 megawatt (MWh) hours of power to the university and the community.

CUA officials pointed out that this groundbreaking project underscores the university’s continued commitment to innovative and sustainable energy solutions and positioning it as a leader in renewable energy within the District and the broader Washington metropolitan region and internationally.

“This West Campus solar farm project is not just a renewable energy venture; it’s a testament to The Catholic University of America’s dedication to creating a sustainable future for our nation and world,” Kilpatrick said. “As we illuminate our campus with clean energy, we also enlighten minds through education and invite the community to join us on this transformative journey toward a greener and more sustainable world.”

Key features of the project include:

• Largest Urban Ground Solar Array: The West Campus Solar Array is the region’s largest urban ground-mount solar array, emphasizing the university’s dedication to pioneering sustainable energy solutions.

• Environmental Savings: The project is estimated to save 7.115 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions annually, equivalent to removing 1,547 cars from roads annually or eliminating the carbon dioxide emissions from nearly 800,630 gallons of gasoline.

• Renewable Energy Generation: With a capacity to produce 10,000 MWh of renewable energy annually, the solar facility benefits both the campus and the local community.

• Energy Equity: The array will also provide clean energy savings to more than 1,200 subscribers within the community, benefiting District residents.

• Economic Impact: The 20-year projected savings to district subscribers is estimated at $3.5 million, creating economic benefits alongside environmental advantages.

“Undertaking a project of this magnitude in an urban setting presents its challenges, but the potential rewards for the region are immense,” Wiater said. “The West Campus Solar Array will power the university sustainably and benefit the local community. It’s a true win-win scenario for all involved.”

“Given our university’s location in the heart of Washington, D.C., we are deeply committed to serving as responsible stewards of the Earth,” said Robert Specter, CUA’s executive vice president, chief operating officer and treasurer. “Our aim is to earnestly support the clean energy and energy-efficiency goals advocated by our elected officials.”

This initiative is already part of the University’s comprehensive sustainability plan that includes LEED-certified buildings, electric-vehicle charging stations, modern energy infrastructure, and other ecological efforts.

Recognized globally for its sustainability efforts, Catholic University was one of the first universities to sign on to the Laudato Si’ Action Platform and has been featured in the Princeton Review’s Guide to Green Colleges for four consecutive years.