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A project supported through the U.S Department of Energy's Sunshot Initiative is looking at the technical and economic viability of utility scale solar electricity at several universities in the Midwestern U.S. The technical aspect is relatively straightforward in that most universities have sufficient demand for electricity and also energy infrastructure to support a utility scale solar photovoltaic array. The more challenging part of the project is developing financial strategies to make solar electricity a fiscally responsible investment. This paper explores one particularly challenging case study at a university in West Lafayette, IN, which enjoys an exceptionally low cost for electricity due to its on-campus combined heat power plant. However, innovative public private partnerships are being developed that will help financially justify investments in solar energy. This project also provides unique educational opportunities for multidisciplinary student teams who are anxious to learn about renewable technologies.

Citation: 2016 Winter Conference, Orlando, FL, Conference Papers