Conference Year



solar photovoltaics, renewable energy, microgrid


The global demand for electrical energy is increasing as a result of population growth and a higher standard of living that is enjoyed by many people. However, the availability of electricity is often limited by fuel supplies and/or infrastructure for generating and distributing power. In addition, the looming threat of greenhouse gas emissions and the collateral damage to the environment has encouraged efforts to diversify methods of electricity production. These factors have led to the increased use of renewable energy, particularly solar and wind, to help meet the demand for energy.   The shift towards solar energy has been accelerating due to the decreasing cost of materials and installation. A project funded by the U.S Department of Energy’s Sunshot Initiative is looking at the economics of solar energy for universities. In particular the project is looking at whether university endowments, which seek to make a long term financial return to the university, can view solar electricity as an investment opportunity. This financial incentive, along with the mission of a university to showcase new technologies, could be helpful for deploying more utility-scale solar electricity at university campus. The university that is the case study for this research enjoys exceptionally low cost for electricity due to its on-campus combined heat power plant. This low cost of electricity generation makes it difficult to justify utility scale solar energy unless creative financing strategies are used.