In a new step towards sustainability, Cornell celebrated the opening of its sixth, and largest, major solar project on March 1.
The newly minted 18-megawatt Cascadilla Community Solar Farm will be responsible for generating 10 percent of Cornell’s energy, making strides towards the University’ goal of becoming entirely carbon neutral by 2035.
As part of its North Campus Residential Expansion project, Cornell recently made a purchase agreement with GreenSpark Solar, a New York-based solar panel provider –– a decision that “represents a tenfold increase in the on-campus rooftop solar capacity,” according to the University.
The University is trying to renew its permit to operate the Cornell University Hydroelectric Project, which includes a dam, turbines and associated structures which have been on Fall Creek for decades, providing energy to campus. Renewable energy initiatives like the hydroelectric plant are a part of Cornell’s goal of a carbon neutral campus by 2035. According to a Federal Energy Commission Report, the average annual power generation from 2013 to 2018 was over 4,500 megawatt-hours. All the power produced by the plant is used to fuel Cornell’s main campus. The hydroelectric project is designed as a “run of the river operation,” meaning that Cornell uses water as it flows in Fall Creek and does not store water.
“Being a leader in renewable energy is not only good for our health but a growing industry that New York needs to be on the ground floor of,” Nixon told a crowd of over 200 supporters at The Space @ GreenStar.
Most of the world’s oil reserves are buried kilometers under the Earth’s surface. With nations worldwide slowly waking up to its ecological impacts, our newest sources of oil may lie far below Cayuga’s waters, stored in a group of green, slimy organisms: algae. Algae are valuable because the natural oils they produce are remarkably similar to diesel. Using a simple conversion process, these oils can be used in vehicles that currently operate on fossil fuels. The issue, however, is efficiency.
On Nov. 16, panelists hosted by Greeks Go Green gathered inside the corridors of Warren Hall, one of Cornell’s four LEED Platinum certified buildings, with the goal of discussing new paths for the development of 100 percent renewable energy. As an effort to commemorate Week of Action for Renewable Energy, the panel was moderated by Bronte Payne, a clean energy associate at Environment America and included several members of the Cornell community such as Prof. Robert Howarth, ecology and evolutionary biology, Sarah Zemanick, director of the Campus Sustainability Office, Prof. Charles Greene, earth and atmospheric sciences. The panel focused on the current work taking place across the world to deal with the implementation of renewable energy technologies and how this trend may develop in the near future. The panel focused on three broad aspects: understanding our national commitment and advocacy for the development of renewable energy, the importance of coordinated activity between citizens and multinational organizations and analyzing some of the current issues afflicting the development of renewable energy.