A Groundwork for Solar Sustainability

A Groundwork for Solar Sustainability

Sustainability |
By Claire Siwulec

This past week, two groups of students from the University
of Illinois Urbana-Champaign presented to Sol Systems regarding their findings
through the university's sustainability minor capstone course. The students conducted
an emissions audit for supply chain and land-usage for the university’s second utility-scale
solar project, Solar
Farm 2.0,
a 54-acre, 12.3 MW dc system on the Urbana
campus that is being developed by Sol Systems. The presentation and partnership
served as part of Sol’s sustainability initiatives and acts as the foundation for
building Sol’s framework for future and current solar project developments.

The partnership with the capstone course and its students was fostered through Sol’s Sustainability Task Force (STF) goals to promote tangible, environmental benefits to make our solar projects more sustainable. The supply chain analysis and land-use emissions audit were conducted for Solar Farm 2.0, which is currently under construction. Through their findings, the students presented a carbon audit and recommendations for Sol Systems, building groundwork that will be used for our solar projects moving forward. Solar Farm 2.0 is the first university project of its kind in the United States, incorporating bifacial trackers, pollinator habitats, and zero-waste construction thanks to our engineering, engineering, procurement, and construction partner, Inovateus Solar and Facilities & Services, the primary construction contact and zero-waste manager for the solar farm. This project, along with the presentation by the students, is just the beginning of sustainable initiatives that tandem STF’s framework for sustainability efforts and educational opportunities. Sol Systems plans to incorporate these initiatives into future solar projects.

The partnership and capstone course through University of
Illinois Urbana-Champaign's Sustainability,
Energy, and Environment Fellows Program (SEE FP)
offers students the
ability to apply sustainability assessment tools to real-world situations in
tandem with the campus sustainability and community efforts. The campus-wide
honors minor is administered by  Institute
for Sustainability, Energy, and Environment (iSEE)
provides collaboration
with six academic units across campus.

For more
information about Solar Farm 2.0, check out our
interview feature
regarding the sustainability aspects of the project.

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