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Renewable Energy FAQs

How does renewable energy factor into 20X35?

Swarthmore College has joined together with eight other colleges and universities to bring a 900-acre 150-MW capacity solar farm onto the grid. The project is made possible through a widely-used type of renewable procurement agreement that empowers institutions to invest in new renewable energy projects elsewhere when viable projects are not available in their region. Located in western Kentucky, this project will add new renewable energy to a grid that relies primarily on fossil fuels.

While electricity generated by the project cannot be transmitted directly to campus because of distance, the College’s participation in the project involves purchasing an amount equal to 100% of campus electricity needs (as of 2024). In return, the College will receive an equal amount of renewable energy credits to account for emissions related to electricity usage. The project is expected to come online by the end of 2026. Read more about the solar project and agreement.

How will off-site solar impact campus greenhouse gas emissions?

Investing in off-site renewable energy is an important step towards decarbonizing our campus energy systems. The solar agreement will allow the College to account for up to 100% of annual emissions (as of 2024) from electricity use, which make up approximately one-third of the College’s total annual emissions. As we move to fully implement To Zero by Thirty Five, the new geoexchange system for campus heating and cooling will be coupled with renewable electricity. These efforts will collectively eliminate up to 98% of campus greenhouse gas emissions related to energy and purchased electricity by 2035.

Will Swarthmore install solar on campus?

In addition to off-site renewable energy procurement, the College is also exploring opportunities to install solar photovoltaics on campus to provide direct power for a portion of building energy needs. For example, the Dining and Community Commons (DCC) includes approximately 400 kilowatts of solar capacity on its roof to directly support part of the building’s energy load. While this will not directly power the geoexchange system, it will help reduce overall campus emissions related to electricity needs