Cal Poly dedicated its new solar farm at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Wednesday.
The 18.5-acre facility near the California Men’s Colony and visible from Highway 1 will generate 11 million kilowatt-hours per year, enough to power more than 1,000 homes, the university said in a news release.
It uses single-axis tracking technology to follow the sun across the sky, producing nearly a third more energy than a stationary system.
That will cover about 25 percent of Cal Poly’s energy needs and is a big step toward the university’s goal of one day becoming a net-zero campus, the university said.
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The project was a partnership between Cal Poly and REC Solar.
In addition to the environmental benefits, the energy it produces will provide direct savings of about $10 million on Cal Poly’s utility bills over 20 years.
The farm will also be used for student and faculty research into solar technology and performance. And animal science students will graze sheep on the property to study vegetation management practices for utility-scale solar farms.
“This is a huge step toward our goal of climate neutrality, and we are very excited about using this new facility to support students’ hands-on learning,” said Dennis Elliot, the university’s director of energy, utilities and sustainability.