Johns Hopkins University will get the majority of its energy from solar power, under an agreement the university announced Monday.
Under the 15-year agreement, starting in 2021 the university will supply most of its campuses with more than 250,000 megawatt hours of solar power a year. That will allow the university to supply about two-thirds of its overall power needs with solar energy.
The solar energy will allow the university to reduce its carbon emissions in the first year by 123,000 metric tons, the equivalent of planting 2.3 million new trees. That will help the university meet its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 51 percent by 2025.
“When we pledged to more than halve our carbon emissions by 2025, we knew it would require rethinking how we power and operate our university,” Ronald J. Daniels, the university’s president, said in a statement. “This agreement demonstrates the seriousness of our commitment to sustainability for the good of our university and our planet.”
Under the agreement with Constellation, Constellation will buy energy and renewable energy certificates from a 175 megawatt solar plant being developed in Virginia. Constellation will then sell the power to Johns Hopkins.
“This agreement is one of the largest of its kind among institutes of higher education nationally,” Julian Goresko, the university’s recently hired director of sustainability, said. “It’s a really exciting opportunity.”
The project will also be the largest commitment to solar in Maryland.
Overall, the deal took nearly a year for the university to complete.
Except for power already generated by on-site solar and cogeneration, the solar energy will power the Homewood, Peabody Institute, Montgomery County, Washington, Applied Physics Laboratory, Keswick and Mount Washington campuses. It would also partially cover the School of Medicine and the Bloomberg School of Public Health.
Those sites all require about 390,000 megawatt hours a year.
Most of the deal comes out of the university’s 2008 Climate Action Plan. That established a goal of reducing carbon emissions by 51 percent from projected 2025 levels.
For the project, the university considered multiple options, said David Ashwood, the university’s senior director of plant operations.
“We looked at wind and hydro and solar,” he said. “This ended up being the best project for the university.”
But the university will have to keep working to keep up with increasing power demands in order for it to meet its carbon emissions goals.
“The University’s Climate Action Plan committed us to reducing our greenhouse gas emissions drastically, developing academic programs that would train tomorrow’s leaders and scientists and creating the technologies and policies the world needs,” Ben Hobbs, director of the Environment, Energy, Sustainability & Health Institute at the university, said. “The solar power purchases, re-staffing of the Office of Sustainability, and creation of a Sustainability Leadership Council are huge steps in the right direction.”
Other steps the university has taken include replacing its campus lights with LED lights. It also formed a Sustainability Leadership Council to work on the university’s sustainability programs.