To meet our current energy needs, Saint John’s has invested and continues to look towards creating renewable energy on campus. These projects not only provide our campus with clean energy, but also offer the chance for students, faculty, and staff to learn about and research these new technologies.
Completed in December 2009, the Saint John’s Abbey Energy Farm is the third-largest ground-mounted photovoltaic array in Minnesota. The panels annually provide 4% of our energy needs and can offset up to 20% of peak power requirements. The solar farm was made possible by a two million-dollar grant from Xcel Energy's Renewable Development Fund, Saint John’s Abbey, and Westwood Renewables.
The Saint John's Abbey Energy Farm...
- consists of over 1,800 solar modules
- produces 575,000 kWh annually (enough to power 65 American homes)
- has a solar tracking system that enables it to produce 15% more energy than a static panel
- avoids over 400 tons of CO2 emissions per year
- left 80% of the 3.9 acre farm undisturbed during and after construction
One of our alumni, Steve Fait ’94, was a writer and producer of The Man with the Golden Sun, which was created for the “Putting the Sun to Work for Minnesota” film contest, presented by Solar Works for Minnesota and Environment Minnesota.
Although Saint John’s doesn’t currently have a wind turbine, we have been researching the viability of wind energy on campus. With advances in technology and viable sites marked out, wind energy looks to be a very realistic option and would be a major step as Saint John’s continues to move towards carbon neutrality.
A single 2.0 MW wind tubine...
- could provide enough enough electricity to power the entire Saint John’s campus in moderate wind conditions.
- could produce 30% - 50% of our total electricity needed on an annual basis.
Other on-campus energy sources:
As the on-campus Power Plant heats and cools our buildings, it also creates approximately one-fourth (25%) of the electricity consumed on campus. Co-generation means there are two uses for the steam. The primary role of steam production is to heat and cool our buildings; the electricity is a side benefit. Our boilers produce high pressure steam, which spins turbines to generate electricity. The turbines drop the steam from high pressure steam down to the low pressure steam that is used by campus buildings.