Saint John's Abbey Goes Solar!
Construction on Solar Photovoltaic Project
began in October 2009
Saint John's Abbey has received the final approvals and permits to construct a solar energy power field on about four acres of abbey land. The Benedictine tradition at Saint John's Abbey advocates a strong commitment to good stewardship of its resources. Incorporating solar energy to the campus's energy sources is the first major step in the Abbey's initiative to broaden and strengthen the monastic community's commitment to green energy-and to education.
Just two years ago, under then-president Br. Dietrich Reinhart, Saint John's University was a charter signatory of the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment in 2007, which directs Saint John's to the ultimate goal of carbon neutrality as part of an ongoing commitment to good stewardship.
Saint John's Abbey and Saint John's University see themselves as responsible for the campus's natural environment and seek to take a leadership role in educational activities to promote environmental awareness, global thinking, and collaboration on the local level.
This solar power project (in addition to the modest solar array that was added to the science center at Saint John's in 2008), offers a potentially major addition to the university's environmental studies curriculum, as students will now be able to study a system in operation on the Saint John's campus. Locating the facility on a college campus allows students direct access to cutting-edge technology.
Partners in the Solar Project
Saint John's is partnering with Westwood Renewables, a Minnesota-based company that specializes in solar electric development, design, and education, to construct the solar power field. The installation of approximately 1,800 solar modules began in mid-September and was completed in late November. In addition to the power benefits, education is a major component and goal of the project.
Scope of the Solar Project
The solar photovoltaic energy project consists of approximately 1,800 solar modules that will produce an anticipated annual energy production of 575,000 kilowatt-hours. These panels are placed on 3.9 acres of abbey land west of the main entrance to the Saint John's campus. The power generated by the panels will be connected to the electrical grid serving Saint John's and the central Minnesota area.
Installation of the solar panels was completed in late November.
Funding of the Project
Project funding, in part, is provided by customers of Xcel Energy through a grant from the Renewable Development Fund (RDF).
Fact Sheet on Project: Fact Sheet
Westwood Renewables: http://www.westwoodrenewables.com