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MIT solar energy purchase addresses carbon emissions

In the fall of 2016, MIT advanced its climate change mitigation efforts by joining with two local partners in a 25-year power purchase agreement (PPA) with a Virginia-based utility. The PPA enabled the construction of Summit Farms – a roughly 650-acre, 60-megawatt solar farm that otherwise would not have been built.

Summit Farms, an array of 255,000 solar panels occupying an area in North Carolina four times the size of MIT’s campus, is projected to generate 146 gigawatt-hours of emissions-free power per year, resulting in the abatement of 119,500 metric tons of carbon dioxide emissions. This is the equivalent of removing almost 25,250 cars from the road.

Through the PPA, MIT is committed to the annual fixed-price purchase of 73 percent (44 megawatts) of the power generated at Summit Farms, and we receive the corresponding federal Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs). By keeping the RECs, MIT demonstrates renewable energy use equivalent to 40% of our total electricity use on campus.

From a global perspective, MITís purchase of 44 megawatts of Summit Farms-generated electricity represents 87,600 metric tons of CO2-equivalent avoided emissions each year ó equivalent to 41% of MITís 2014 baseline emissions. When we apply the Summit Farms RECs to the electricity we purchase each year from our local grid, the impact of this initial PPA on MITís carbon footprint is equivalent to more than half (17%) of the 32% emissions reductions MIT committed to in its Plan for Action on Climate Change, announced on Oct. 21, 2015.

Note: The electricity supplied to the MIT campus is sourced from both the on-campus Central Utilities Plant and the local public utility grid. The RECs for this project are applied against the electricity purchased from the grid only.

Learn more about the Summit Farms PPA.

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