Back to Top

Solar Panel Array Begins Construction

President Dibiasio signing the ceremonial solar panel at the groundbreaking ceremony (Photo by ONU Communications and Marketing)

President Dibiasio signing the ceremonial solar panel at the groundbreaking ceremony (Photo by ONU Communications and Marketing)

GEM Energy has officially began construction on a 2 megawatt solar panel field that will supply energy to ONU.

At the solar field’s ground breaking ceremony several individuals significant in the projects development were present such as ONU President Dr. Daniel DiBiasio, Director of Sustainability Terry Keiser and GEM Energy President Bill Alexander.    

Dr. Keiser, who has been a faculty at ONU since 1967 and is the namesake of the Keiser Lecture, expressed that the solar panel field has been a “long project”.  The process of getting a company interested and committed to the project took close to two years.   

DiBiasio said. “Not only will the university benefit from this endeavor, but our students, in particular will realize its value, especially those who are involved in co-op and other similar opportunities on this site. This puts the concept of high-impact learning in action.”

This project involves both GEM Energy and the campus community with students participating in Co-op programs with GEM such as Junior Manufacturing Technology Major Corey Stuart. 

“I’m learning a lot about the management side of construction practices and how a project goes from start to finish,” Stuart said. 

The educational component of the solar panel project also extends to all students.  Once the solar-array is finished a kiosk will be placed on campus that will have up to date information on how much energy the solar-array is producing at any given time. 

By the end of 2016, the field is located off of Klinger Road, a short distance from campus and will include 18,000 thin film panels that will generate 10 percent of ONU’s energy consumption.  A single axis tracking system will be installed with the panels and will allow the panels to rotate toward the sun to maximize solar power output.  GEM Energy will own and operate the solar field and ONU will buy the energy output, under a 25-year purchase agreement.