The University of Pittsburgh and Vesper Energy officially cut the ribbon on the Gaucho Solar project. Built on 68 acres on the border of Findlay Township (Allegheny County) and Independence Township (Beaver County), it is one of the largest solar projects in Western Pennsylvania, with about 55,000 solar panels generating electricity. The 20-megawatt solar farm sits near Pittsburgh International Airport.
The day’s events bring together public officials, community members, and leaders from Pitt and Vesper. Geoffrey Pyatt, assistant secretary for energy resources at the U.S. Department of State and strong advocate for the importance of clean energy cooperation at the local, state, federal and global levels, is also touring the new facility later that day.
About the Gaucho Solar Project
The project was constructed by Texas-based Vesper Energy, which 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. It is expected to provide approximately 18% of the campus’ electricity usage per year, helping Pitt reach its goal to achieve campus carbon neutrality by 2037.
“The Vesper team is extremely proud to be a part of bringing Pitt’s sustainability vision to life,” said Craig Carson, CEO of Vesper Energy. “Projects and partnerships like this are a critical part of the global energy transition which relies on secure and stable clean energy production. What we can create and achieve is exponential when we work together for the greater good.”
University, Community and Environmental Impact
The Gaucho Solar project will produce more than 35,700 megawatt-hours of electricity annually. This production will reduce Pitt’s greenhouse gas emissions by 15,452 metric tons of carbon dioxide annually, the equivalent of taking nearly 3,330 gasoline-fueled cars off the road. Combined with future committed use of local hydropower, at least 42% of the University’s future electricity will come from dedicated, local, renewable energy sources.
The Gaucho Solar project will also save the University millions of dollars over the contract term due to solar’s low comparative cost. The ability to directly purchase clean energy will generate long-term cost and environmental savings, require no upfront capital or maintenance costs from Pitt, and give the University price certainty throughout the contract.
“The University of Pittsburgh is fully committed to achieving carbon neutrality for our Pittsburgh campus by 2037, with our current and future renewable electricity commitments getting us over one-third of the way there,” said Aurora Sharrard, Executive Director of Sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh. “We are very excited that Vesper’s Gaucho Solar facility is the newest and largest renewable asset to-date contributing to the University’s goals of producing or procuring 100% of our electricity from renewables by 2037.”
Students had learning opportunities throughout the construction process and the facility will be incorporated into the school’s curriculum, providing educational opportunities for students today and into the future. The pollinator-friendly landscaping has an important environmental impact beyond the site, improving water quality, reducing erosion, and creating critical habitat and food for birds, bees, butterflies, and other beneficial insects.
About Vesper Energy
Vesper Energy provides innovative solutions to today’s complex energy challenges. Headquartered in the greater Dallas area, Vesper Energy is comprised of professionals who have collectively delivered more than 10 GW of renewable energy projects globally. Today, our pipeline includes over 49 renewable energy and energy storage projects with a generating capacity of 16 GW; enough to power more than 2 million homes. Working with our customers, communities, and business partners, we develop, own, and operate renewable energy projects across the United States with the goal to build a better energy infrastructure.