950 kW Solar PV + 360 kW Energy Storage

Luther College solar + storage addition 2020

During the fall of 2020 Luther College installed and cut the ribbon for an additional 950 kW of solar photovoltaic (PV) power in an array on college property along Pole Line Road. This project features a 360 kW lithium-ion energy storage system which will discharge power during periods of peak electricity consumption.

With this addition, the total solar PV electrical generation capacity serving Luther's main campus (1,772 kW) now exceeds the generating capacity of Luther's wind turbine (1,600 kW).

System Information

  • 950 kW solar photovoltaic system
  • 360 kW lithium-ion energy storage system
    • The battery storage system will discharge power during periods of peak power consumption on the Luther campus.  This will help Luther reduce its annual electricity costs, which are pegged to annual peak demand.  
  • Installed in Summer/Fall of 2020 by Perry Novak Electric
  • Facilitated in part by studies conducted by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in 2016-2017.  
    • Luther was one of fifteen colleges and universities NREL selected to provide free consultation regarding the viability of solar + storage systems.
  • Projected annual production: 1.2 million kilowatt hours (kWh) 
    • 10% of Luther’s current electricity consumption
      • 4% reduction in campus carbon footprint
    • Enough to power 1,122 average US households (US Energy Information Agency)

Financial Information

  • Total cost ~$2.3 million
    • Owned by Nova Properties, LLC (Local Investor)
    • Luther College is leasing the land to the investors and will purchase the power from this facility over the next ten years at a contracted annual increase of 2%.
  • Financing provided by Northeast Security Bank and the Iowa Energy Office's Alternate Energy Revolving Loan Program.
  • Projected $1 million in savings to Luther over the 25-year life of the system

Background Information

  • This is the third large solar project Luther has developed in partnership with local investors who can utilize state and federal tax incentives the college cannot access as a non-profit. 
  • Ranked nationally in the top 10 colleges for campus sustainability, Luther has made serious commitments to energy efficiency and renewable energy with a goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030.
    • Luther has reduced its emissions by 56% to date (as of Fall 2020) 
  • Environment America lists Luther College among the top five colleges and universities for the self-supply of renewable energy.