Since 2013, five large grid-tied, ground-mounted solar electric (photovoltaic) arrays have been 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 solar arrays.
The five arrays cover more than twelve acres combined. Three are in Corvallis and two are at OSU properties elsewhere in the state. The 35th Street site is the largest, at around six acres and 1,435 kilowatts. It can be found west of the Corvallis campus on the Campus Way bike path.
Here, you can also learn about Agri-voltaics. These are systems where PV solar panels and agricultural production are co-located for mutual benefit. PV panels harvest excess solar radiation, reduce plant stress and increase agricultural productivity. Plant growth cools the adjacent PV panels, increases panel efficiency and power productivity. Active research is underway to investigate the changes in plant water use efficiency, plant nutrient content and greenhouse gas sequestration rates by the soils and plants within the agri-voltaic system.
Chad Higgins founded the Nexus of Energy, Water and Agriculture Laboratory (NEWAG Lab) to study the physical, operational and geospatial tradeoffs in the energy, water food nexus in 2012 just after he joined the faculty at Oregon State University. He holds degrees in Biological Engineering, Mechanical Engineering and Environmental Engineering, and has broad research interests that cover topics from turbulence to precision agriculture to snow science.
John Selker's research includes development of instrumentation (passive capillary sampling devices for vadose-zone sampling, tensiometers and tension infiltrometers for site characterization, and use of LUX light-emitting microbes for continuous in-situ monitoring of microbial colonization and movement in unsaturated media, fiber optics for environmental monitoring using temperature, etc.), the characterization of vadose zone and hyporheic processes (capillary barriers, nutrient and pesticide loss from agricultural fields, groundwater/surface water interactions), and analytical/numerical representations of hydrological processes (Boussinesq equation, HYDRUS simulations, etc).
Brandon Trelstad created the position of Sustainability Coordinator and filled this position since November 2005. Previously, he worked for about four years in OSU’s Government Relations office, during which he interned with Governor Kitzhaber's office. His primary duties include managing communication about sustainability efforts, identifying--and obtaining funding for--conservation and efficiency projects, supporting student and academic sustainability efforts, setting OSU's strategic direction toward sustainability and tracking and reporting on institutional progress toward that strategic direction. Brandon is also the alternative transportation coordinator for OSU. This involves membership on several transit commissions and committees, managing agreements with transit service providers and executing alternative transportation projects. In 2010, Brandon was recognized by 1000 Friends of Oregon as one of the state's 35 Innovators Under 35.
Tours will leave every 20 minutes; please make sure to register to secure your space. You'll learn how solar works and about exciting new projects to get even more energy from the sun.
For event questions or accommodation requests, please contact Shelly Signs, (541)737-0724 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
OSU is celebrating its 150th anniversary with a year-long series of events, including four festivals. These festivals recognize that Oregon State is one of only two universities in the U.S. that have been honored with land, sea, space and sun grant designations. This event is part of the OSU150 Sun Grant Festival running April 9 - 20. Discover Oregon State's research into alternative energy that can reduce dependence on fossil fuels while also energizing rural economies. Learn more at OSU150.org.