In November of last year, the Office of Sustainability, along with student organizations such as the Students for Sustainability, presented a plan for an agrivoltaic unit to be built on the roof of the Environment and Natural Resources 2 building.
The plan combined solar paneling and green roof and was originally planned to start construction earlier, but according to Trevor Ledbetter, the director of the Office of Sustainability, it was delayed due to a lack of funding.
Ledbetter said they were still trying to figure out how to fund both parts of the project.
According to Ledbetter, the solution came through meeting with Tucson Electric Power and incorporating the project with the 100% clean energy dealagreed to earlier this year.
“Within that project, which of course sources 100% of our grid-based electricity from renewable resources, we also wrote in an agreement with Tucson Electric Power to create two solar demonstration sites on campus,” Ledbetter said. “One of those being the ENR2 agrivoltaics project and the other being off-district.”
According to Ledbetter, construction of the green-roof portion of the project will start in November and will be completed at the end of February. He said it will include the setting of supports for solar panels, installation of the green roof and irrigation.
Stanley Wong, a co-director of Students for Sustainability, said there have been meetings to discuss the beginning of construction.
“We have been finalizing the plans for soil depth and layout of plots on the roof to give to the contractor,” Wong said.
Ledbetter said that conversations are continuing with TEP about when the solar portion of the project will be built.
He said that based on a previous timeline, TEP is expected to put the solar panels into the unit by the end of summer 2020, which would mean that the entire agrivoltaics project would be finished by August 2020.
According to Ledbetter, UA students have still been a part of the planning and meetings throughout the process.
“So, we’ve still been working with students out of Students for Sustainability,” Ledbetter said. “And we’ve been working with the co-directors for Students for Sustainability as well as the chairs for the Energy and Climate Committee.”
Wong also said that students have continued to be included in the project.
“Students are still a part of the planning and process of the projects,” Wong said. “We are invited to the meetings and our opinions are considered.”
Ledbetter said that the agrivoltaics projects being a part of the much bigger project, which is the UA and TEP deal, will continue to show the UA’s commitment to sustainability.
“So, these two projects really serve multiple purposes,” Ledbetter said. “One, to really continue to show U of A’s dedication to renewable energy and environmental stewardship, but also to improve research using campus as a living laboratory to ground the overall deal to a space that can help people understand what we are doing.”
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