UTEP Using Sun To Power Campus

UTEP Using Sun To Power Campus
Friday, January 20, 2012 - 6:42pm

EL PASO - Friday afternoon, UTEP President Diana Natalicio flipped a cartoon-like giant light switch, to turn on the city's largest combined rooftop and parking canopy photovoltaic arrays in a ceremony on campus. Both the rooftop solar panels and the solar powered canopy take advantage of space, without impacting how land is currently used. The canopy was erected in a parking lot, above where cars park, using a minimum of space.

Once the switch was flipped, the combined array generates more power from the sun than any other similar solar photovoltaic (PV) array on El Paso Electric's grid. The project cost around a million dollars to complete, with the bill paid for by grants. Experts estimate that the initial cost will be offset in 7-10 years by the savings in the annual cost of electricity by the university.

UTEP is exploring expanding the project to other rooftops around campus. Forty to fifty potential buildings have been found to be suitable locations for more PV arrays. Once all those locations are fitted with solar arrays, it is estimated that the school could be producing nearly 75% of the electricity it uses in a year from solar panels on campus. That is, if the university can secure funding.

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