Duke Energy officials say the company will install its first field of solar panels on a university campus in Indiana when it puts 7,000 photovoltaic cells in Purdue University’s Discovery Park.
Duke spokesman Lew Middleton says the panels could generate enough power to run more than 200 homes, though he says the electricity generated will be distributed to the wider grid and will not necessarily stay in the Greater Lafayette area.
“The ease of incorporating the solar energy into the grid is something we’re always taking a look at,” Middleton says.
Other schools in the state, such as the University of Notre Dame and Indiana University, have their own solar projects already underway.
Purdue’s solar farm is slated to be operational by the end of the year and will cover about 10 acres of land – approximately the size of seven football fields.
Middleton says the company will be benchmarking the panels’ performance to determine if the company wants to invest in more green energy generation.
“If the current trends continue, with the prices of solar panels and the price of generating solar energy continuing to drop, it will make more and more economic sense for us to continue to increase the amount of renewables that we can put on our system,” he says.
Middleton says the company may also consider adding additional wind or hydro power to its portfolio.
He says university officials have indicated the panels could be used for educational purposes by Purdue students, but didn’t have details on how.
Purdue isn’t the only Indiana university to be the first of its kind for renewable energy. In 2009, Ball State University became the first college in the nation to begin building a campus-wide geothermal energy system.