The solar array at Saint John's is 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.
With 1,820 modules on 3.9 acres, the solar array will produce 575,000 kWh annually. The solar farm will produce 4% of Saint John's energy needs on an annual basis, but will produce up to 20% of peak power needs in perfect conditions. In order to be more efficient, the panels will track the sun from east to west, gaining 15% more power. The farm was made possible by a 2 million dollar grant from Xcel energy's Renewable Development Fund and by Westwood Renewables. Completed in November 2009, the Saint John's solar array is 4 times larger than the previous largest array in Minnesota.