MIT's solar plant is delivering on its promises

March 26, 2017

North Carolina solar farm is up and running, significantly offsetting Institute?s carbon emissions.

The Summit Farms solar plant

More than 600 acres of solar panels have been successfully installed and connected on land in North Carolina and are delivering their power into the nation?s grid, thanks to a power purchase agreement (PPA) with MIT and two other Boston-based organizations. The installation will not only offset a substantial portion of the Institute?s greenhouse gas emissions but also enable an exceptional level of real-time data collection that could enhance research and education on the design and operation of solar facilities.

The agreement that led to the construction of this 650-acre solar farm, which has a 60-megawatt output capacity, was signed last August by MIT, Boston Medical Center, and Post Office Square Corporation. It is the largest renewable energy project ever built in the U.S. through an alliance among different organizations, and has already spawned interest among other institutions and organizations seeking to emulate the successful aggregation process. This process is seen as a model that can provide a roadmap for other institutions of any size to access renewable energy in a way that may have been out of reach if they had pursued renewable solutions alone.

After many months of study, consultation, and negotiation, the solar farm of 255,000 panels ? called Summit Farms ? was built, tested, and delivered less than six months after the agreement was signed, creating more than 1,000 jobs at the site during the process. It has so far met or exceeded all specifications. In the process, it is producing clean, renewable energy that is equivalent to 40 percent of MIT?s total campus electricity use. The unit has been officially endorsed by MIT: ?It?s producing full power, and all test results gave us a very high level of confidence that the installation is capable of producing at target levels,? says Joe Higgins, director of infrastructure business operations for MIT?s Department of Facilities.

Read the full article on MIT News.