Oregon State University

Renewable Energy

On-site Renewable Energy

Ground Mounted Photovoltaic Arrays

Solar graphIn 2012, two large ground-mounted solar electric (photovoltaic) arrays were installed on agricultural lands operated by Oregon State University as part of “Solar by Degrees,” a large-scale photovoltaic power program coordinated by the Oregon University System.  OSU was the first to install and have operational its solar arrays. 

The two arrays cover about four acres combined. The larger site, with a capacity of 481 kilowatts, is located adjacent to Trysting Tree golf course just east of the Willamette River.  The second site size is 289 kilowatts and is located adjacent to the bike path just east of the Benton County Fairgrounds near 53rd Street.  Check real-time monitoring of both sites and see more information.

OSU Solar Trailer

The OSU Solar Trailer is a portable device that captures and stores solar energy. Its purpose is to educate about photovoltaic (solar electric) energy technologies and provide a renewable, portable power supply for events. It was designed by OSU students as a senior project in mechanical engineering and constructed in 2007.  The Student Sustainability Initiative provided about $30,000 in project funding in addition to over $20,000 received in product donations and discounts from RJH Enterprises, Outback Power, Smith Glass, MK Battery, Wattsun, Abundant Solar, and Freebird Body and Paint.

The device provides electricity to campus and community events such as Earth Week, the Beaver Community Fair, da Vinci Days, Fall Festival, Oregon State Fair and others.  Because of its on-board battery system, the Solar Trailer can also power electrical loads at night.  Power duration for large loads is extended during the day, and most small loads can be powered indefinitely.  The batteries are the limiting factor for long duration power draws, but large temporary loads up to the circuit ratings below are no problem.  The Trailer can also be available for emergency dispatch to wherever remote power requirements may exist.

In 2012, the Solar Trailer received a major battery technology upgrade.  In 2013, the Sustainability Office and Student Sustainability Initiative took the advancements even further by contracting with local company Shift Electric Vehicles to install an on board level 2 electric vehicle smart charger.  This charger greater utilizes the Trailer's improved battery capacity and innovatively promotes more sustainable transportation.

Solar Trailer specifications:

  • 1800 watt solar array - nine Sanyo 200 watt solar modules
  • Two 3.6 kilowatt Outback grid interactive inverters capable of 7.2 kW (60 Amps @ 120 Volt or 30 Amps @ 240 Volt)
  • About 25 kilowatt hours of battery storage in an advanced lithium-ion battery pack, with a custom battery management system installed by Shift Electric Vehicles in Albany, Oregon
  • One SAE-J1772 Electric Vehicle Safety Equipment (EVSE) charging system
  • Two 20 amp 120 volt circuits feeding 4 standard 120V household outlets
  • One 30 amp 240 volt circuit powering one dryer style outlet
  • Wattsun dual axis sun tracker
  • Expandable, fold out array
  • Mechanical lift moves array into sun tracking position

OSU Solar Trailer

In June 2009, the Solar Trailer was used to charge a campus visitor's Tesla Roadster, illustrating that transportation fuels can be renewable too.

Need visible, renewable, portable energy for your event?  Fill out the Solar Trailer request form (doc). Some fees may apply.

Kelley Engineering Center

A 2.4 kilowatt photovoltaic system was installed on the Kelley Engineering Center during its construction in 2004. While this relatively small system provides a fraction of the power this large commercial building needs, it demonstrates the feasibility and output of solar resources in the Willamette Valley.


Hatfield Marine Science Center

A 1.1 kilowatt array at HMSC in Newport demonstrates, renewable energy technology to visitors and reflects OSU's commitment to education in sustainable practices. HMSC has also implemented campus-wide energy conservation upgrades including the installation of an energy-efficient lighting and heating/ventilation system that resulted in a 15 percent decrease in electrical consumption.

Exercise Equipment

OSU is one of the first universities to harness human energy generated by workout routines and put it onto the electrical grid. Using a new technology developed by a company in St. Petersburg, Fla., called ReRev.com, LLC, OSU has retrofitted 22 elliptical exercise machines in its student funded Dixon Recreation Center. As of March 2009, this is the largest installation of its kind in the world.

The system uses two inverters to convert direct current (DC) generated in the elliptical exercise machines to alternating current (AC) used by the building's electrical system. Each machine can generate up to 400 watts with the user at a full sprint. More realistic output is expected to be 25-100 watts sustained.

The project was coordinated by the OSU Sustainability Office and the Recreational Sports Department, and funded from the OSU Student & Incidental Fees Committee, the Energy Trust of Oregon and Recreational Sports. Additional technical and logistical support was received from Pacific Power. Read more on Ecologue, the OSU sustainability blog.


Off-site Renewable Energy

Renewable Energy Certificate Purchase

For several years, OSU has purchased large amounts of renewable energy certificates (RECs) to offset its electricity use.  A student fee of $8.50/student/term, approved April 27, 2007 during the general election, supplied funding for this purchase between 2007 and 2010, and in 2011 OSU administration made the purchase as students elected to spend their fee money for on-site systems.

Following a campaign led by ASOSU Environmental Affairs, the student population approved the fee with 70% of voting students voting in favor. The campaign consisted of a fall 2006 survey revealing that 68% of students supported a fee, followed by a winter term petition collecting signatures to include a renewable energy question on the spring general election ballot. Over 1,700 students signed the petition in just a few days.

GPLAThe US Environmental Protection Agency has recognized OSU multiple times for outstanding leadership in renewable energy use. In October 2008, Andrea Norris who, as a student, led the campaign for the renewable energy fee and now works in Campus Recycling, accepted on OSU's behalf a Green Power Leadership Award in Denver, Colorado.

In 2011, OSU purchased enough renewable energy to meet nearly 100% of its electricity needs and was the 5th largest college or university purchaser of renewable energy in the nation. It was also designated the PAC-12 Conference Champion in renewable energy purchases and a member of the Green Power Leadership Club.  The source of OSU's renewable energy is wind power.  All OSU RECs are Green-e certified. For 2012, due to fiscal constraints OSU made a smaller purchase offsetting about 10% of total electricity use.

Non-students can donate to help increase our purchase volume at a discounted price.  Students can also use this method if they wish to donate more than the $8.50 per term fee.

Additionally, OSU's renewable energy certificate provider, Bonneville Environmental Foundation, is making a special offer of discounted green tags for OSU students, faculty, staff, and affiliates.  A promotional code is required to get the 20% discount. Contact us to get your promo code, then purchase your green tags in your desired amount.

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