The home of the Golden Dome is embracing the power of the sun.
Councilors for St. Joseph County, Indiana, have approved a request by the University of Notre Dame to build a solar array of 3,400 panels to reduce the campus carbon footprint. Work on the 46,000-square-foot solar farm could begin this summer now that county leaders have approved a zoning change for the project.
The Notre Dame solar array will located on the west side of campus near the South Bend television station WNDU studios. It will meet only about 1 percent of the campus electricity demand, but could reduce greenhouse gas emissions by an additional 600 tons per year, according to reports. But it is not the school's first such project.
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The globally-known private university, famous for its football program, academics and the main administration building with a golden dome, vows to achieve net zero carbon status by 2050. Notre Dame does gain about 20 percent of its energy needs from other renewable projects, including a solar partnering with Indiana Michigan Power utility and a new hydroelectric power plant along the St. Joseph River which was completed and dedicated in September 2022.
Campus officials say those projects altogether can reduce CO2 emissions by 10,000 tons per year.
“This solar project represents yet another step that Notre Dame is taking toward sustainability,” Geory Kurtzhals, campus senior director of sustainability, said as quoted by the university news site. “Fuel switching to renewable resources represents real progress on a pathway toward meeting our carbon neutrality commitment. Decarbonization is not easy…”
The school joins other universities nationwide, such as Sam Houston State in Texas, in constructing solar power sites on campus to help decarbonize operations while also increasing on-site power resiliency.
Notre Dame ceased burning coal to fuel its on-campus power systems about four years ago, according to reports.
In April 2022, the university announced it had joined the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership. Notre Dame completed its first solar farm in 2021.
The university also has distributed rooftop solar arrays at Fitzpatrick and Stinson-Remick halls. It also is partnering with a local dairy operation. Homestead, to send food waste that then can be converted to biofuels.
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(Rod Walton, senior editor for EnergyTech, is a 15-year veteran of covering the energy industry both as a newspaper and trade journalist. He can be reached at [email protected]).
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