A solar array and a strand of DNA might not seem to have much in common. But in April, the University at Buffalo (UB) introduced the Solar Strand, a 3,200-panel solar array that extends in a linear pattern evoking the pattern of a DNA fingerprint. The 750-kilowatt project stands at the main entrance to UB’s north campus, providing a striking gateway to the university.
The university says the Solar Strand, funded by a $7.5 million grant from the New York State Power Authority (NYPA), will provide electricity to hundreds of student apartments, help cut energy costs and reduce UB’s overall carbon footprint. It is expected to produce enough clean, renewable power to help avoid the emission of close to 400 tons of greenhouse gases annually.
The announcement of the Solar Strand immediately followed New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s April launch of the NY-Sun Initiative, a plan to double the amount of solar power for customers in the state each year and to quadruple that amount by 2013. The comprehensive NY-Sun Initiative expands existing programs administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Long Island Power Authority, and the NYPA. NYSEDA will provide increased funding for its solar program for larger scale and aggregated systems that currently focuses on businesses, colleges and universities.
The Solar Strand at UB also represents a key element in the NYPA’s Renewable Energy Program to help further commercialization of renewable energy technologies by offering incentives to promote new technologies.
To encourage the growth of the region and state’s clean energy economy, the NYPA board of trustees decided that utilizing local businesses should be a priority in building out the Solar Strand. Nearly 40 New York Buffalo area businesses contributed to the completion of the project, employing hundreds of area residents.