Edison Energy and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) have partnered to publish Aggregating Higher Education Demand for Renewables: A Primer.
The guide is designed to assist cohorts of colleges and universities interested in aggregating their energy loads to achieve economies of scale when sourcing renewable energy. It highlights the benefits of this aggregated approach by examining several completed group purchases, as well as some in progress, such as a 100 megawatt (MW) effort in Buffalo, New York. It also describes best practices for pursuing group renewable energy aggregations structured as power purchase agreements (PPAs).
Since 2009, there has been steady growth in renewable energy adoption by institutions of higher education. But, according to the report Assessing the Higher Education Sector’s Use of Renewable Energy, the scale of adoption has not been commensurate with the carbon-neutrality goals stated by many colleges and universities.
Onsite solar has become an attractive strategy because it can be highly visible to campus stakeholders and because it is “behind-the-meter,” which means it can displace more of the delivered cost of electricity. However, it is constrained by the size of the sites on a campus available to host arrays, therefore typically only providing a small portion of campus electricity usage. Off-site wind and solar projects are typically much larger, and are therefore capable of providing up to 100 percent of a campus’s electricity usage — delivering dramatically larger benefits.
Both options can be conducive to a consortium-style approach in which two or more entities aggregate their efforts in order to capture economies of scale. Higher education is particularly well-suited to aggregation strategies, as evidenced by the growing number of cohorts emerging to achieve scale through renewable energy buyers’ groups.
One such group aggregating energy demand is spearheaded by the University at Buffalo, leading an effort called Localizing Buffalo’s Renewable Energy Future, aiming to catalyze 100 MW of renewable energy by 2020. Click here to read more about Edison Energy’s work with this initiative.
Learn more about aggregating higher education demand for renewable energy by downloading the free Primer, right here.