Zamorano continues to be the leading university in Central America with an on-site solar park to help meet its energy demands. Zamorano’s solar park also serves to reduce the atmospheric emission of CO2 by 1,2000 tons every year.
Zamorano is building on the momentum of the existing Solar Park’s capacity to contribute renewable energy as part of its energy matrix by commencing construction of a second phase of the Solar Park. The Solar Park second phase will increase the clean energy contribution in 2021 up to 1.25 Megawatts (MWp), thereby establishing itself as a sustainable energy model in light of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) promoted by the United Nations (UN).
According to Dr. Victoria Cortés, director of Zamorano’s Center for Renewable Energy, in its second phase the Solar Park will grow to include a solar tracking system which projects a 20% increase in energy production over the energy produced by the fixed solar panels from the project’s first phase. In addition, the use of half-cell solar panels will provide more efficient power generation, better performance, and an increase in the power per unit area. All these increases are in support of Zamorano’s academic objectives and, at the same time, cover 35% of the campus’ energy needs, which represents approximately a 13% increase compared to the current scenario.
The first phase integrates 2,940 polycristalline solar panels with 926.4 peak kilowatts of power. The second phase of the Solar Park will be made up of 864 465W panels, for an installed power of 402 peak kilowatts (kWp), which will generate 712 Megawatt hours per year (MWh/year). This represents an increase by approximately 60% of the energy generated by the first phase during its fourth year of operation. It is worth mentioning that although the second phase only has 43% of the peak power installed in the first phase, overall performance is better by combining tracking technologies and half-cell panels.
Favorable environmental impact
In addition to building a sustainable energy matrix, this second phase of the Solar Park will eliminate the emission of approximately 1,200 annual tons of CO2, thereby helping to contribute to Zamorano’s Board of Trustee approved Climate Change mitigation goals. Zamorano puts a high priority on environmentally sustainable practices, with attention to the dependence on and impact of agriculture on natural resources. Sustainable practices lay the foundation of expanding the university’s capacity to teach, conduct research, and produce and transmit new knowledge to students and the entire region.
This new phase of the Solar Park is being implemented jointly with other on-campus strategic initiatives focused on (1) the efficient use of water for domestic and productive purposes, (2) the responsible use of soil, (3) lessening the use of chemicals, (4) the increase in usage of biological control organisms to treat crop diseases, and (5) the protection and conservation of forests and water resources, among others.
Alliance with Enertiva
As in contracting for Phase I, Zamorano has entrusted the construction of the second photovoltaic plant to the company Enertiva. Following a private bidding process, Enertiva was awarded the contract for the installation of the Solar Project’s Phase II. The project will be under construction across the third and fourth quarters of this year and is expected to be operational in early 2021. In 2015, with the installation of the First Phase developed by Enertiva, Zamorano became the first university in Central America to be home to a large solar park to help supply its energy demand. The First Phase is currently performing well under optimal conditions and meeting its energy production goals.