Commodore Sunshine: Vanderbilt celebrates startup of Solar Farm

April 13, 2023
Called Vanderbilt I Solar Farm, the facility has been developed by Silicon Ranch in partnership with Vanderbilt University, Nashville Electric Service (NES) and Tennessee Valley Authority. Output will offset the school's energy use

Renewable energy company Silicon Ranch has announced the start of commercial operations of a 35-MW solar power facility located in Bedford County, Tennessee.

Called Vanderbilt I Solar Farm, the facility has been developed in partnership with Vanderbilt University, Nashville Electric Service (NES) and Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).

Planners say the project marks a significant step towards Vanderbilt University’s goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050. The renewable energy generated by the solar farm is expected to offset approximately 70 percent of the university’s annual Scope 2 greenhouse gas emissions, which is equivalent to providing enough power to serve over 6,000 households for a year.

“The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm not only represents a major step toward our own goals at Vanderbilt, but also provides a model of collaborative, forward-thinking solutions that we hope other higher educational institutions will adopt and replicate across this country,” said Daniel Diermeier, Chancellor of Vanderbilt University. “We look forward to the educational and research opportunities this project and our pursuit of carbon neutrality will yield for our faculty and students at Vanderbilt. We thank Silicon Ranch, NES, and TVA for supporting us on this bold journey.”

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The project was announced in 2020 as the first under TVA’s Green Invest program, which matches commercial, industrial, and institutional customers with renewable energy sources.

Silicon Ranch provided the funding and oversaw the development of the project. It will also serve as the long-term owner and operator of the facility. The company says it has invested over $50 million in the solar farm, which is expected to generate millions of dollars in new tax revenue to support local infrastructure and schools in the Bedford County area.

“The Vanderbilt I Solar Farm demonstrates what is possible when we work together with a shared vision for the region, and Silicon Ranch is grateful to Vanderbilt for its leadership and to TVA and NES for their strong support of this meaningful renewable energy investment in Bedford County,” said Matt Kisber, Co-Founder and Chairman of Silicon Ranch.

Silicon Ranch is a Nashville-based provider of customized renewable energy, carbon, and battery storage solutions. Its portfolio includes more than 5 GW of solar and battery storage systems that are contracted, under construction, or operating across the U.S. and Canada.

In January, the solar developer announced a new funding around of $600 million. It also is developing projects with Meta, Rivian Automotive and Georgia-based Green Power EMC.