The University of Pittsburgh (Pitt) and Vesper Energy have completed construction on their 68-acre Gaucho Solar project located near the Pittsburgh International Airport. Under a power purchase agreement, for the next two decades, all of Gaucho Solar’s produced energy will go directly to Pitt, effectively meeting 18% of the university’s energy needs.
“In Pittsburgh, solar makes a lot of sense financially and electrically,” said Aurora Sharrard, Pitt’s Director of Sustainability. “The push to shift to lower carbon fuel sources is something that we all need to do globally to combat climate change. So, there’s really no question of whether. It’s just how and how fast.”
The solar project will produce nearly 35,700 MWh per year, effectively reducing Pitt’s greenhouse gas emissions by more than 15,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually. This directly aligns with the university’s public pledge to be carbon-neutral by 2037.
By entering into the power purchase agreement, Pitt was able to lock in a specific price for their power for the entire 20-year agreement duration. This will help Pitt mitigate market price fluctuations and significantly reduce the university’s energy expenditures when compared to shorter-term agreements.
“The cost of locking in power prices over a long period of time saves the university money in the long term,” Sharrard said. “And locking in solar power specifically dramatically reduces our costs over the next 20 years compared to market rates today and definitely in the future.”