Notre Dame works to reduce carbon footprint with new solar panel array

Notre Dame's new solar array // WSBT 22 photo

Brand new solar panels are now soaking up the sun -- helping to power a Notre Dame-owned warehouse in South Bend.

On sunny and cloudy days, solar panels are collecting sustainable energy.

Solar energy can be used in many ways, and panels are also cost effective.

The University sees this new solar array as their next step in their long-term energy plan.

The front of the buidling looks like a standard warehouse on the far west side of South Bend. But just around the back is a collection of new solar panels, giving the facility a new source of energy.

Paul Kempf, Senior Director of Utilities & Maintenance at Notre Dame, says, "We saw this as a good place and opportunity for us to gain more experience with solar."

The warehouse has a higher cost of electricity than on campus, and the solar panels will help defray that cost.

Local solar company Inovateus just finished installing the array.

The project has been in planning for over a year.

They started the install this spring. After testing, the panels are now up and running.

"If the sun is shining then these panels are collecting energy. so it doesn't take a lot," says Jordan Richardson, Inovateus Solar Project Manager.

The panels collect energy from the sun. It flows to the building through underground wiring. Then it’s converted to power that is used by the warehouse.

Kempf says, "This is all about trying to reduce our carbon footprint and as we try to wean ourselves away from fossil fuels."

Notre Dame chose this spot for the new solar array because on the ground it’s less expensive and easier to maintain than on top of buildings.

"You've seen double digit decreases in panel costs so therefore solar in itself has become more applicable and more desirable.," says Richardson.

The University is looking into other ways to add solar to their diversified energy portfolio.

"The opportunity to experiment at this scale with a variety of different technologies - be it geothermal or solar, hydro that we're working on with the city of South Bend and other renewable & recoverable energy opportunities – you kind of keep your options open for the future," says Kempf.

The University says the cost of the solar array was about $350,000. They expect to see a return on that investment in 15 years.

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