Construction Begins on Pitt-Partnered Gaucho Solar Project Near Pittsburgh International Airport
Project between University of Pittsburgh, Vesper Energy will supply electricity to Pittsburgh campus for next 20 years and be one of largest solar projects in Western Pennsylvania.
FINDLAY TWP., PA – Construction has started on a new 20-megawatt solar farm near Pittsburgh International Airport that will supply electricity to the University of Pittsburgh for the next two decades.
Built on 68 acres on the border of Findlay Township (Allegheny County) and Independence Township (Beaver County), the Gaucho Solar project is expected to be online in 2023 and will be one of the largest solar projects in Western Pennsylvania once operational, with about 55,000 solar panels generating electricity.
The project is being constructed by Texas-based Vesper Energy, which has partnered with the University of Pittsburgh via a power purchase agreement through which Pitt has secured 100 % of the project’s energy and environmental attributes over the next 20 years.
Once operational, the Gaucho Solar project is projected to produce more than 35,700 megawatt-hours of electricity annually, or about 18 % of the Pittsburgh campus’ electricity usage per year. It will lower the University’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15,452 metric tons of carbon dioxide per year, the equivalent of taking nearly 3,330 fuel-burning cars off the road. Combined with future committed use of hydropower, at least 42% of the University’s future electricity will come from dedicated, local, renewable energy sources.
Pitt’s partnership with Vesper’s Gaucho Solar farm is estimated to save the University millions of dollars over the contract term due to solar’s low comparative cost. In addition, directly purchasing clean electricity will generate long-term cost and environmental savings, require no upfront capital or maintenance costs for the University, and give Pitt price certainty throughout the contract.
“The University of Pittsburgh is fully committed to achieving carbon neutrality for our Pittsburgh campus by 2037, with local, renewable energy getting us one-third of the way there,” said Aurora Sharrard, Executive Director of Sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh. “We are very excited for Vesper’s Gaucho Solar facility to be the largest contributing renewable asset to-date for the University’s goals of producing or procuring 50% of our total Pittsburgh campus electricity from renewables by 2030 and 100% by 2037.”
In addition to including pollinator friendly landscaping, the solar project will also incorporate an observation area adjacent to the solar array for educational experiences for Pitt students.
“Vesper Energy is proud to partner with the University of Pittsburgh to help achieve their goal of 100% renewable electricity powering the campus. Gaucho Solar is our first project to reach construction in the Keystone State. With great partners like the University of Pittsburgh, we plan to bring more clean energy projects online in Pennsylvania in the near future,” said Craig Carson, CEO of Vesper Energy.
Construction on the project will continue through the winter, with the facility expected to begin generating renewable electricity by mid-2023. For more information on the University’s climate plan and sustainability goals, please click here.