Harrisonburg, Va.'s Eastern Mennonite University (EMU) officially is home to the state's largest solar photovoltaic project — it has the capacity to generage 104.3 kilowatts of electricity from 328 photovoltaic panels on its library roof. Just how much energy is that? Enough power to supply the total average annual electricity costs of nine homes in Harrisonburg.
Since its launch in mid-November, the panels have saved 5 trees and 4.5 barrels of oil, and offset nearly 6,500 pounds of carbon, as detailed on a website dashboard that showcases the solar system's daily, weekly and monthly output.
The solar project will cut EMU’s dependence on local utilities, helping to reduce the university’s reliance on energy from coal and other fossil fuels. The reduction will eliminate more than 6,000 tons of greenhouse gas emissions over the projected 35-year life of the solar panels.
"Our planet does not have unlimited natural resources," said University President Loren Swartzendruber at the project's dedication. "It is imperative that we utilize clean renewable energy such as solar as part of the university's long-term commitment to creation care and environmental sustainability."
The project is made possible by local investors and American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funds. For more information, visit EMU's website.
"With a deep commitment to clean energy, I hope that this project represents just the beginning of EMU's work to develop solar power," said Swartzendruber, who also announced that the university hopes to host a second, larger solar system in the first half of 2011.