University of Arkansas signs 25-year solar power deal with Entegrity

A solar array near Hope, Arkansas. Credit: Ark. Agricultural Experiment Station

The University of Arkansas has announced a 25-year “solar service agreement” with US energy company Entegrity Energy Partners to supply its Milo J Shult Agricultural Research and Extension Center with solar power.

The deal will see solar power from Entegrity’s 3.6MW solar array near the city of Hope meet 80% of the energy needs of the research centre, which is part of the university’s System Division of Agriculture. While the total volume of power provided to the university is small, with 8,496 solar modules providing 0.8MW of power, the installation is significant as Arkansas looks to rapidly accelerate its solar capacity.

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“A lot of what we do at the experiment station has an eye on the future of agricultural issues to feed more people with fewer resources,” said Jean-François Meullenet, senior associate vice president for agriculture-research at the University of Arkansas. “The solar array aligns with our goals, allowing the experiment station to operate more efficiently and take advantage of this renewable resource.”

According to the Solar Energy Industries Association, Arkansas boasts the 33rd-most solar capacity among US states, up from 35th-most last year, and is on track to have the 15th-most capacity by 2028. In total, US$971 million has been invested in solar power in the state, and there are plans to add 3.4GW of power over the next five years.

Critically, most of the state’s solar capacity is utility-scale, with more than 100MW of utility-scale capacity added in each of 2018, 2020 and 2021, and the use of new solar developments to meet the energy needs of a public research facility such as the University of Arkansas is an encouraging step for the state.

The move is also the latest Arkansas solar project in which Entegrity has invested. In March 2022, the company built a 1.1MW solar array to meet 80% of the power needs of the local district of public schools, and partnerships with private companies such as Entegrity could prove to be an important part of the state’s renewable infrastructure in the long-term.

The news follows the announcement of BayWa r.e Solar Projects’ US$115 million investment into solar power across several US states, including Arkansas.

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