Gallaudet University bringing 8.2-MW Microgrid hosting Solar, Battery and Gen-sets on D.C. Campus

April 14, 2022
The 158-year-old higher education campus for deaf and hard of hearing students is partnering with Scale Microgrid Solutions and clean energy developer Urban Ingenuity to fund, plan and build the microgrid system.

One of the world’s leading and historic liberal arts schools for deaf and hard of hearing students is going to be powered by a new, multi-sourced microgrid coming to the Washington, D.C. campus.

158-year-old Gallaudet University is partnering with Scale Microgrid Solutions and clean energy developer Urban Ingenuity to fund, plan and build the microgrid system. It is expected to go online by the fall of 2023.

The microgrid on the Gallaudet campus will include 2.5 MW in solar photovoltaic panels spread across numerous campus-wide rooftops and parking garages. It also will incorporate a 1.2-MW/2.5-MWh Tesla Megapack lithium-ion battery system.

Baseload power will be delivered by a new 4.5-MW combined cooling, heat and power system. Tied together, the microgrid will generate nearly all of the university’s needed electricity and comfort needs.

“After several years of careful planning, we are excited that this transformational project is becoming a reality,” said Gallaudet University President Roberta J. Cordano. “The microgrid will help Gallaudet meet the energy challenges of the 21st century. Gallaudet has been an anchor in the District for 158 years, and we are proud to be building an energy system that will benefit the community.”

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In fact, the solar array will be powerful enough that as many as 1,500 nearby households or small businesses can purchase the zero-carbon energy generated at Gallaudet.

“With this ground-breaking project, Gallaudet University is demonstrating that clean and resilient infrastructure offers a vital source of innovation and growth for the National Capital region and the nation,” said Bracken Hendricks, CEO of Urban Ingenuity, the microgrid architect serving as financial and technical advisor in developing this system.

Scale Microgrid Solutions will design, build and operate the campus microgrid. It is collaborating with contractors including Urban Ingenuity, Tesla, Schneider Electric, Mitsubishi, CHA Consulting and New Columbia Solar.

“The system will work in parallel with the utility to power the campus and, in the event of a grid outage, will provide nearly all the University’s electricity needs, allowing campus operations to continue with minimal disruption,” Ryan Goodman, CEO of Scale Microgrid Solutions, said. “In addition, electricity generated by the solar arrays will be available to Washington, D.C. residents, nonprofit organizations, and small businesses through the District of Columbia community solar program.

The microgrid is intended to decarbonize Gallaudet’s energy use and reduce its utility costs. The system can also be islanded to operate when the grid is down due to destructive weather or other outages.

Gallaudet University, federally chartered in 1864, is a bilingual, multicultural institution of higher education for deaf, hard of hearing and Deafblind individuals through American Sign Language and English. The university enrolls over 1,400 students in more than 40 undergraduate majors, as well as a multitude of master’s and doctoral degree programs.

Gallaudet also conducts research in various fields, including accessible technology, Deaf history and culture, Black Deaf history and culture, brain imaging, educational neuroscience, education, linguistics, and psychology.

About the Author

Rod Walton, EnergyTech Managing Editor | Senior Editor

For EnergyTech editorial inquiries, please contact Managing Editor Rod Walton at [email protected].

Rod Walton has spent 15 years covering the energy industry as a newspaper and trade journalist. He formerly was energy writer and business editor at the Tulsa World. Later, he spent six years covering the electricity power sector for Pennwell and Clarion Events. He joined Endeavor and EnergyTech in November 2021.

Walton earned his Bachelors degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma. His career stops include the Moore American, Bartlesville Examiner-Enterprise, Wagoner Tribune and Tulsa World. 

EnergyTech is focused on the mission critical and large-scale energy users and their sustainability and resiliency goals. These include the commercial and industrial sectors, as well as the military, universities, data centers and microgrids. The C&I sectors together account for close to 30 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S.

He was named Managing Editor for Microgrid Knowledge and EnergyTech starting July 1, 2023

Many large-scale energy users such as Fortune 500 companies, and mission-critical users such as military bases, universities, healthcare facilities, public safety and data centers, shifting their energy priorities to reach net-zero carbon goals within the coming decades. These include plans for renewable energy power purchase agreements, but also on-site resiliency projects such as microgrids, combined heat and power, rooftop solar, energy storage, digitalization and building efficiency upgrades.