Colleges and universities across the country have large utility bills due to dishwashers in dining halls, campus computer labs, and dormitory mini fridges, among many other things. The SunShot Initiative is helping to make it easier for college campuses to use solar energy by helping to ease the financial aspect. Colleges who go solar can save money by reducing campus operating costs while carrying other economic and environmental benefits.

Out of the universities who are solar powered, the top ones include Northwestern University and Drexel University. Northwestern started using solar power in 2011, with an installation of a 16.8-kilowatt panel display that generates about 20,000 kilowatt-hours per year. The students there planned, proposed, and raised $117,000 for this project, while also overseeing the installation and project management from beginning to end. Drexel installed solar-powered trash cans and compactors on their campus while also “committing to purchase 100 percent of the campus’s energy from off-site wind and solar power facilities.” They also have a program that supports students, faculty, staff, and alumni in efforts to get solar power for their own homes.

Along with universities that excel in going solar, there are also many schools that excel in the study of renewable energy. The Oregon Institute of Technology introduced North America’s first four-year undergraduate degree program in renewable energy in 2005, and today still continues to prepare graduates to develop, manage, and implement sustainable energy technologies. With technology developing more every day it’s important to learn about this industry and how important solar power is for our future.