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CUA to open largest solar panel system in Washington, DC

Solar panels

Smit | Shutterstock

J-P Mauro - published on 02/16/24

The 42 rows of new solar panels will generate some 10,000 mega-watt hours of electricity, to help run the school and even give back to the nation's capital.

The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, DC, has found a way to answer Pope Francis’ call to care and stewardship of God’s creation, as instructed in his 2015 encyclical Laudato Si’.CUA has constructed a massive array of solar panels that will bolster the school’s source of renewable energy and even send some power back to the city. 

The Washingtonian reports that the solar panels will be located on a 40-acre plot of land on the western side of the campus. The space had previously been considered for a new parking lot, but instead, 42 rows of solar panels have been installed and are expected to begin providing electricity to the university in Spring 2024.

Once activated, CUA will be home to the largest solar power system in DC, able to generate some 10,000 mega-watt hours of green, renewable energy annually. The Washingtonian notes that this amount of energy has an environmental impact similar to removing 1,500 cars from the road. This energy will not just go to the university, but it will also be sent back to the grid to go towards private DC residences. 

The solar panels will not be the only installations on this 40-acre parcel, as the university plans to create habitats for pollinators beneath the panels. Thus, the land will not just generate renewable energy, but it will be home to bees, butterflies, hummingbirds and other animals essential to the renewal of plant life. The university is also teasing the idea of producing its own honey as part of this expansion.

Alexandra Harry Nappier, head of CUA’s Office of Campus Sustainability, commented on the solar installation: 

“Because of the university’s location in the District of Columbia, we really want to be good stewards and help make good-faith efforts towards what our elected officials would like to see in terms of promoting clean energy and energy efficiency.”

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