Lehigh University has partnered with EDF Renewables to develop and install a solar array on a portion of university-owned land located on Goodman Campus. The proposed Saucon Valley Solar project is intended to supply 100%* of the electrical power needs of the Goodman Campus, which includes the majority of the university’s athletic and event facilities, utilized by students, staff, faculty and the community.
The project, currently in its design and development phase, is in line with the university’s commitments to environmental sustainability and climate action as outlined in its Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030. Lehigh aims to offset 100% of Lehigh’s electricity consumption with renewable energy through a combination of off-site and on-site projects, energy conservation and Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs).
“We are excited to be moving forward on a key component of Lehigh's Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030 where Lehigh, working with community partners, has an opportunity to demonstrate true climate leadership,” said Brent Stringfellow, Lehigh’s associate vice president of facilities and university architect.
The proposed Saucon Valley Solar project is a 2.625 megawatt (MW) AC solar photovoltaic project located just south of Legacy Park and opposite the Lewis Indoor Tennis Center. EDF Renewables, a market leading independent power producer and service provider with 35 years of experience, with assistance from Bohler Engineering and CustomerFirst Renewables, will develop and design a system that will exist in harmony with the rest of the Lehigh Goodman Campus and the surrounding community.
Myles Burnsed, vice president, Strategic Development stated, “EDF Renewables is proud to partner with Lehigh University to deliver a solar solution in support of their sustainability ambitions that also provides cost-effective clean energy.”
The project will utilize single axis tracker technology and bifacial solar technology to optimally capture solar energy. The Facility will generate an estimated annual energy output of 5,200 MWh/year, which is enough to provide 100%* of the Goodman Campus’s electricity.
“This solar array will not only have a positive impact on our campus operations and will reduce Lehigh’s carbon footprint in line with Lehigh’s Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030, but it will also have a significant impact on academics and research,” said Katharine Targett Gross, sustainability officer in Lehigh’s Office of Sustainability. “We have incorporated educational and research opportunities into the project including summer internships, guest lectures, guided tours of the site, access to a portal that shows live and historical weather and production data, and an annual career mentoring session.”
The site was chosen both because it aligns well with Lehigh’s long-term planning goals and because of its location relative to existing transmission infrastructure. In order to supplement the existing electrical power, the array needs to tie into a primary feed to campus. Among the possible sites, this one is closest to the primary feed location. The proposed design for the area between the solar array and the nearest residential community will use landscape and a variety of plant species to establish a rich backdrop to the existing yards and utilizes both seasonal and evergreen materials to ensure a quality year-round experience.
“Lehigh is committed to ensuring that the design and development of the project is in harmony with the surrounding environment and the community,” added Stringfellow.
Through energy efficiency measures, energy conservation, renewable energy sourcing and energy management, Lehigh is proactively reducing its campus greenhouse gas emissions and mitigating global climate change. Lehigh continues to play an active role in the search for innovative solutions addressing global climate change and in resiliently adapting to its impacts.
Learn more about Lehigh’s Sustainability Strategic Plan 2030 here.
*An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported that the project would supply only 90% of the electrical power needs of the Goodman Campus.