March 01, 2024
The West Campus solar array will showcase the University's prioritization of sustainability projects. (Catholic University/Patrick G. Ryan)

This summer, the University will officially be home to the D.C. area’s largest solar array, one that NBC4 in Washington called big “enough to fill 19 football fields.”

The project's sheer enormity on 25 acres of previously undeveloped land on the West Campus has left many speechless.

“Witnessing this large-scale project in development helped my understanding of the process of construction and management,” said junior mechanical engineering major Kathleen Delate.”So much detail and hard work goes into the installation of the solar panels, as well as the process of converting solar energy into the energy we use in our everyday life.”

Delate was one of many students from Sen Nieh’s "Introduction to Energy and Energy Systems” course who were given a fall 2023 tour of the developing array.

University President Peter Kilpatrick (middle) joined students on an October 2023 tour of the solar array on the West Campus.

The anticipation around the project is palpable. The six-megawatt array is the result of a partnership with Standard Solar.

“It’s just been amazing,” said Alexandra Harry Napier, the University’s director of the Office of Sustainability. “There’s been a lot of enthusiasm. Not many universities are going this big.”

Once online, the array will bring clean energy savings to D.C. residents, nonprofits, and businesses. It will be another visible sign of the University’s care for creation.

“The project will provide locally generated, renewable energy to our campus, and local residents and businesses,” said University President Peter Kilpatrick in a recent letter to the community. “The array will save an estimated 7.115 metric tons of greenhouse gas emissions per year, and contribute to Mayor Muriel Bowser’s goals to make Washington, D.C. carbon-neutral and climate resilient by 2050.”

The University already hosts 2,600 solar panels that dot the main and north campuses. Locations include Aquinas Hall, Flather Hall, Gibbons Hall, Pangborn Hall, the DuFour Center, the Grounds, the Maintenance Building, and the O’Boyle Parking Lot with 677 kW of installed capacity.