The solar installations at Saint John's are the first highly visible step in achieving carbon neutrality. It demonstrates our commitment to the American College and Universities President's Climate Commitment and to the Benedictine value of stewardship. Saint John's hopes this large scale project will pave the way for clean energy in Minnesota.
The solar panels will be used by several departments on campus, especially environmental studies, for research. Several classes have toured the field as a part of their studies. The Saint John's Outdoor University has developed an energy class for K-12 students and others.
Tours of the solar field are available for all types of groups, at varying levels of technical knowledge. If you are interested in a guided tour, there are associated fees depending on group size, length of tour and type of group. Complete the solar tour request form to begin the process of scheduling a tour for your group and we will correspond with you about the details.
Please note that you are welcome to visit the solar farm on your own at any time. The area is fenced off and while you are not able to walk right up to the panels for safety reasons, you are welcome to walk the perimeter. There is currently one panel with information about the solar farm posted on site and plans for an educational kiosk are in the works.
About 80% of the land will not be disturbed and native prairie grasses and flowers have been planted around the panels to restore the land and assist with water absorption. Their are no concrete footings at the base of the panels, decreasing material use. Since the solar installations require no permanent fixtures and have no long-term environmental impacts on the sites the installations could theorietically be deconstructed and the land could become farm fields again.
With 36,436 modules on 27.06 acres, the solar array will produce 2,855,000 kWh every year for Saint John's. This will account for 18.75% of Saint John's energy needs on an annual basis and can produce up to 88.3% of peak suumer power needs in perfect conditions. Athlough the first Completed in November 2009, the Saint John's solar array is 4 times larger than the previous largest array in Minnesota.