Bringing solar solutions
Bringing solar solutions
This toolkit provides guidance and resources from Solar Market Pathways projects to inform the development and implementation of targeted solar programs and policies for higher education institutions. Specifically, these resources are intended to assist college and university program managers, sustainability directors, faculty, staff, and other stakeholders as they seek to take advantage of the benefits of solar energy and further solar deployment on and off campus.
This toolkit is a working document. We will be adding new resources as new ideas, techniques, and success stories emerge. We want this toolkit to be as useful as possible and encourage you to give us feedback and to let us know if there are specific resources that would be helpful to include.
Please email Nicole Enright, Program Officer at Institute for Sustainable Communities, at email@example.com with your comments and ideas.
This section features the ins and outs of how to begin planning for solar deployment, including site assessments, roadmaps, tutorials, and case study examples.
Harnessing the Sun: A Case Study of Solar Energy Deployment at Agnes Scott College
This case study reveals how Agnes Scott College, a small independent college in Georgia, successfully deployed solar arrays on its campus and includes detailed information on the technical aspects of each project. Specifically, it covers creative financing, innovative design, and partnerships.
Survey of Solar at Colleges and Universities: Midwest Focus
An update on the survey of 680 participating colleges in the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, including findings on common financing mechanisms and renewable energy goals.
|Template||CICV Solar Roadmap||The Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) team has created this template solar policy and program roadmap containing guidance on how to transform the local solar market. Each recommendation in the roadmap is supported with relevant reports, case studies, examples, and templates to support local and regional implementation efforts.|
|Template||Solar Master Plan Template||An integral part of the CICV Solar Market Pathways project is to provide colleges with the information necessary to incorporate solar energy into their long-term planning processes. The CICV team provided each college with their own Solar Master Plan with tailored information that is relevant to their local utility, government, etc. This sample plan is a template other colleges and universities can utilize in their planning process.|
|Video||Survey of Solar at Colleges and Universities: Midwest focus||An update on the survey of 680 participating colleges in the American College and University President’s Climate Commitment, including findings on common financing mechanisms and renewable energy goals.|
|Case Study||Harnessing the Sun: A Case Study of Solar Energy Deployment at Agnes Scott College||This case study reveals how Agnes Scott College, a small independent college in Georgia, successfully deployed solar arrays on its campus and includes detailed information on the technical aspects of each project. Specifically, it covers creative financing, innovative design, and partnerships.|
|Video||Agnes Scott College Solar Deployment Case Study Presentation||Susan Kidd, Director of Sustainability at Agnes Scott College, a small independent college in Georgia, revealed how the college successfully deployed solar arrays on its campus, including detailed information on creative financing, innovative design, and key partnerships. In January 2015, the college completed the installation of five solar photovoltaic arrays, which now produces 342,200 kW hours per year. The presentation includes detailed information on creative financing, innovative design, and key partnerships.|
|Article||Hampshire College Solar Project: Plan to generate up to 100% of electricity||A summary of Hampshire College’s initiatives to become the only residential college generating 100 percent of its electricity from solar panels.|
|Tool||System Advisor Model for financial analysis of PV||SAM makes performance predictions and cost of energy estimates for grid-connected power projects based on installation and operating costs and system design parameters that you specify as inputs to the model. Projects can be either on the customer side of the utility meter, buying and selling electricity at retail rates, or on the utility side of the meter, selling electricity at a price negotiated through a power purchase agreement (PPA).|
|Tool||REopt site assessment||NREL’s REopt energy planning platform can help you understand the optimal mix of renewable energy and fossil fuels required to meet your cost savings, greenhouse gas reduction, and energy performance goals. The platform offers concurrent, multiple technology integration and energy optimization capabilities and can be customized for various applications, including screening single or multiple locations for renewable energy potential, and developing detailed operating strategies for dispatchable energy assets.|
|Technical Assistance||Solar Screenings & Implementation Assistance for Universities||NREL is offering no-cost technical assistance to universities seeking to go solar, in support of the U.S. Department of Energy’s SunShot initiative. The program is designed to increase the deployment of mid-scale solar photovoltaic (PV) systems at universities, engage stakeholders to develop deployment solutions, and empower decision makers. View current projects and resources.|
|Roadmap Case Studies||Campus PV Development Roadmaps||Case study roadmaps from Purdue University and Illinois State University featuring PV development plans for 1+ MW PV including stakeholder mapping, priority development sites, PV site assessment, financial modeling, and legal/regulatory review.|
|Case Study||Solar Deployment at Colorado State University||Colorado State University’s efforts to integrate solar energy into its campus illustrate some of the key considerations for universities growing their renewable energy portfolios within the context of a continuously evolving solar PV landscape. This NREL case study highlights CSU’s decision-making process, campus engagement strategies, and relationships with state, local, and utility partners, which have culminated in significant on-campus PV deployment.|
|Webinar||Solar Energy on Campus: Opportunities and common pitfalls in communicating renewable energy use in higher education||As universities and colleges nationwide green their electricity with solar through onsite generation, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and renewable energy certificate (REC) purchases, these institutions must be clear and accurate in their claims to avoid reputational and legal risk. Understanding the implications of various purchasing options is central to ensuring that desired solar energy claims will be supported by your purchase. Listen to this webinar to learn about the role of RECs in renewable energy claims, the advantages and risks of solar purchasing options, REC arbitrage done right, and more.|
|Toolbox||Toolbox for Renewable Energy Project Development||The Green Power Partnership is working with the higher education sector to identify economic and administrative barriers in the deployment of on-site renewable energy projects. This website examines six topic areas – including policies and regulations, economic assessments, financing and funding opportunities – that have important implications for developing these on-site solar projects on college and university campuses.|
There are various methods to finance the development of solar within the campus and community, including bulk purchasing or collaborative procurement, power purchase agreements, leading a solarize initiative, and more. In this section we offer a variety of financing options and success stories that reveal why a specific financing option was pursued.
Guide to Purchasing Green Power
EPA’s Guide to Purchasing Green Power provides an overview of green power markets and necessary steps to buying green power and includes case studies, terminology, and market information.
A Net-Metered Solar Project Benefits All Ratepayers
Supplemental resource from above presentation: A value of solar analysis for Eastern Mennonite University’s 104kw solar project. This case study is an example of a commercial scale solar PV installation that benefits a municipal utility, a college, and the surrounding community.
Innovative Financing: Solar for Higher Ed in Virginia Case Study
Tony Smith, President and CEO, Secure Futures LLC and Eldon Kurtz, Physical Plant Director, Eastern Mennonite University present on innovative ways to finance solar at college campuses through Power Purchase Agreements, Customer Self Generation Agreements, Solar Certificates of Deposit and more.
|Resource Library||Green Gigawatt Partnership Resource Library||The Green Gigawatt Partnership aims to catalyze at least one gigawatt of new green power in higher ed by assisting and recognizing universities and colleges. Visit their website to access educational materials on PPAs including navigating challenges, electricity purchase guidance, and sample solar PPAs.|
|Video||Capital Partners Solar Project- Harnessing Collective Buying Power to Procure Solar||Under the Capital Partners Solar Partnership George Washington University, American University, and the George Washington University Hospital have collectively entered into a 20-year Power Purchase Agreement with Duke Energy. Learn about a new business model in which nonprofit institutions collectively solicited competitive bids to secure a large portion of their electricity supply from solar PV.|
|Video||RECs: Making Green Power Possible||This EPA video explains the basics of Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs), which represent the environmental and other non-power attributes of renewable electricity generation and are a component of all renewable electricity products. This video address common questions and concerns about the role and benefits of RECs.|
|Video||Understanding Renewable Energy Certificates||Presenter: James Critchfield, EPA Green Power PartnershipOften RECs are simply viewed as an instrument through which incentives are delivered to the market without much discussion regarding why RECs have value and what RECs represent from a legal basis. Learn about strategies used by colleges and universities to address this issue including ensuring that the role, value and trade-offs involved with monetizing renewable energy certificates or in participating in financial structures where a third party retains ownership of the associated RECs is well understood. Slides here.|
|Resource Library||Solar Procurement Templates and Tools for Higher Education||Resources from EPA’s webinar on solar templates and tools for colleges and universities. Tools include RFP checklists, evaluation matrix, levelized cost of energy calculator, PV system requirements, and others.|
|Resource Library||EPA Green Power Partnership Resource Library||The resource library includes guidance documents, templates, and examples of solicitations and contracts.|
|How-To Guide||Guide to Purchasing Green Power||EPA’s Guide to Purchasing Green Power provides an overview of green power markets and necessary steps to buying green power and includes case studies, terminology, and market information.|
|Video||CivicPACE for Colleges and Universities||Alex Winn, Program Director, The Solar Foundation discusses ways colleges and universities can creatively finance solar through the CivicPACE model and others.|
|Video & slides||Innovative Financing: Solar for Higher Ed in Virginia Case Study||Tony Smith, President and CEO, Secure Futures LLC and Eldon Kurtz, Physical Plant Director, Eastern Mennonite University present on innovative ways to finance solar at college campuses through Power Purchase Agreements, Customer Self Generation Agreements, Solar Certificates of Deposit and more.|
|Article/Case Study||A Net-Metered Solar Project Benefits All Ratepayers||Supplemental resource from above presentation: A value of solar analysis for Eastern Mennonite University’s 104 Kilowatt solar project. This case study is an example of a commercial scale solar pv installation that benefits a municipal utility, a college, and the surrounding community.|
|Factsheet||Using Power Purchase Agreements for Solar Deployment at Universities||The U.S. Department of Energy National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) released a fact sheet to familiarize interested parties with using power purchase agreements (PPA) for solar deployment. Solar power purchase agreements have facilitated more than 100 MW of solar deployment on campuses around the country. This brochure provides guidance to universities on the process of using PPAs and how PPAs can make economic sense for campus solar deployment. This document can support university stakeholders charged with the financial planning of campus solar projects. View webinar slides here.|
|Video||Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia: RFP and Collaborative Procurement||The Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia (CICV) issued a request for proposals to acquire 37 MW of solar across 15 partnering campuses in late 2015. Hear about the collaborative procurement RFP process, lessons learned, and their next steps in this recording.|
|Resource Library||NREL RFP and PPA Resources||Example RFPs and PPAs compiled by NREL|
|Sample RFP||Sample RFP for On-Campus Collaborative Procurement||This RFP, issued by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia on behalf of several member colleges, has been grouped into three “bundles” of sites for on-campus solar to provide a more accessible and relevant process to bidders who may provide proposals and qualifications for one, multiple, or all bundles of sites.|
|Lessons Learned||Lessons Learned for On-Campus Collaborative Procurement||This RFP, issued by the Council of Independent Colleges in Virginia on behalf of several member colleges, has been grouped into three “bundles” of sites for on-campus solar to provide a more accessible and relevant process to bidders who may provide proposals and qualifications for one, multiple, or all bundles of sites.|
|Factsheet & Webinar||Non-Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) Options to Financing Solar Deployment at Universities||NREL developed this overview summarizing existing financing models and funding mechanisms available for solar procurement, focusing on non-PPA financing models.View the webinar slides here.|
|Webinar||Solar Energy on Campus: Opportunities and common pitfalls in communicating renewable energy use in higher education||As universities and colleges nationwide green their electricity with solar through onsite generation, power purchase agreements (PPAs), and renewable energy certificate (REC) purchases, these institutions must be clear and accurate in their claims to avoid reputational and legal risk. Understanding the implications of various purchasing options is central to ensuring that desired solar energy claims will be supported by your purchase. Learn about the role of RECs, acceptable language for making accurate claims, REC arbitrage done right, and more.|
|Webinar||Working with a PV Developer to Make PV Investments on Your Campus||Recorded webinar by Jared Schoch of TurningPoint Energy covering the PV Development Process, Key Considerations for US universities, and strategies for conducting a successful competitive solicitation.|
|Factsheet||Writing Solar Requests for Proposals (RFPs): Lessons from NREL’s University PV Implementation Assistance Program||Typically, universities issue RFPs as a way to get competitive bids on solar power purchase agreements (PPAs). However, RFPs could also be used for university-owned systems. While providing assistance to universities issuing RFPs, NREL has developed a list of common issues to consider when writing an RFP for solar PV.|
|Webinar||Solar University Network: Innovation in Solar Energy Finance & Development||This webinar, hosted by Second Nature and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA), focuses on four case studies highlighting higher education investment in solar energy projects. Featuring representatives from the colleges and universities highlighted in the case studies, participants learned about financial investment models and lessons learned from working on solar energy projects with higher education institutions through the Solar Market Pathways grant.|
Installing solar offers educational and research opportunities for students and faculty. As higher education institutions seek to prepare their students for the future job market, firsthand experience with renewable energy systems can become a valuable addition to the curriculum. In this section, we share examples of courses featuring hands on solar experience, existing curriculum resources and learning modules and more.
Lincoln Park Shines: Promising Practices for Engaging Students and the Community in Solar and Renewable Energy
Lincoln Park Shines is a partnership between the University of Minnesota Duluth and Ecolibrium3. The program gave the students hands on experience in the field, and enabled the businesses involved to engage on the topic of energy at a high level.
CICV Learning Module- Analyzing Utility Regulatory Filings
This learning module has been created by CICV to guide students in the analysis of utility regulatory filings. This module uses Ferrum College as a case study to analyze the potential impact of deploying solar PV systems under Appalachian Power Company’s (APCo) proposed RGP Rider on CICV member colleges in APCo’s service territory.
|Video||Lincoln Park Shines: Promising Practices for Engaging Students and the Community in Solar and Renewable Energy||Alison Hoxie and Mary Christiansen, of the University of Minnesota, Duluth present about Lincoln Park Shines, a partnership between the University of Minnesota Duluth and Ecolibrium3. The program gave the students hands on experience in the field, and enabled the businesses involved to engage on the topic of energy at a high level.|
|Video||Midwest Renewable Energy Association (MREA) Site Assessment Certificate and Course in Applied PV Development||Nick Hylla of Midwest Renewable Energy (MREA) team presented their PV Site Assessment Certificate for university students and course in Applied Campus PV Development as a potential model for other higher education institutions to adopt as well as an update on their Campus PV Deployment Roadmaps and SUN Delegation trips.|
|Video||Curriculum Enhancement and Student Involvement Workshop Discussion||Carol Wampler, Council of Independent Colleges of Virginia shared on the CICV Curriculum Enhancement and Student Involvement Workshop. Tyler Espinoza, Optony, shared a case study on how students and faculty examined the potential impacts of a proposed rider by a Virginia utility that could affect how colleges install solar in this utility territory.|
|Scan of existing materials||Scan of Existing Solar PV Curriculum||A list of existing solar curriculum for K-12 and colleges and universities|
|Learning Module||CICV Learning Module- Analyzing Utility Regulatory Filings||This learning module has been created by CICV to guide students in the analysis of utility regulatory filings. This module uses Ferrum College as a case study to analyze the potential impact of deploying solar PV systems under Appalachian Power Company’s (APCo) proposed RGP Rider on CICV member colleges in APCo’s service territory.|
This section includes examples of solar investment proposals, campaigns for engaging alumni and donors in renewable energy investment and how to engage with university governance boards.
Intentionally Designed Endowments
This primer was developed to help endowment stakeholders establish a baseline understanding of the key issues related to aligning investment practices with institutional mission and values. It provides a high level overview of the field of sustainable investing, including a brief history and links to key resources and relevant organizations.
Investing in Clean Energy for Campuses and Endowments
Co-hosted by the Intentional Endowments Network (IEN) and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association, this webinar provided an overview of IEN’s new report Investing in Clean Energy: Campuses and Endowments, which was designed to encourage conversation about the financial and societal benefits of clean energy investments higher education can make – both as a customer and institutional investor through their endowments.
Luther College: Third-Party, Supporter-Financed Campus Solar An Approach and a Partnership that Works
This case study highlights how Luther College leveraged donor and supporter-financed funding methods to deploy solar pv on campus.
|Report||Investing in Clean Energy: Campuses and Endowments||The Intentional Endowments Network’s report, Investing in Clean Energy: Campuses and Endowments, was designed to encourage conversation around the financial and societal benefits clean energy investments in higher education can make – both as a customer and an institutional investor through their endowments. It also explores the current opportunities and barriers to such investments.|
|Briefing Paper||The Business Case for Environmental, Social and Governance Factors||The Intentional Endowments Network’s Business Case for ESG briefing paper was developed to help endowment stakeholders understand what ESG investing is, how ESG investing and analysis can be approached, and how ESG investing strategies perform financially.|
|Case Study||Wake Technical Community College: Public College Foundation Investment in Solar||Developed by the Midwest Renewable Energy Association and Second Nature, this case study follows the decision-making and project development pathway for solar investment at Wake Technical College. This installation illustrates the investment potential for institutional foundations looking to further educational (e.g. student scholarships) and financial (e.g. solar energy opportunities) goals and the benefits of solar support by a private foundation.|
|Case Study||Appalachian State University: Supporting Solar Energy through a Student-Financed Renewable Energy Initiative||This case study highlights how Appalachian State University found success in overcoming financial barriers to support solar energy and education on campus through innovative and self-financed renewable energy-focused student funds.|
|Case Study||Colby College: Developing a Diverse Solar & Carbon Neutrality Strategy||This case study follows the decision-making and project development pathway at a small liberal arts college that reached carbon neutrality two years ahead of its goal by implementing a diverse strategy of efforts from solar PV installations to biomass.|