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New Jersey hospital to add 2.1 megawatts of solar

Sun Farm Network, Canadian Solar plan to participate in what will be the state's largest hospital installation.

Artist's rendering of one of the solar carports and the solar array planned for the roof of the existing parking garage at Saint Peter's University Hospital. Sun Farm Network

St. Peter's University Hospital in New Brunswick, N.J., announced today it's beginning construction this October to install 10,000 solar panels throughout its campus.

The 2.1-megawatt project will be the largest solar installation of any hospital in New Jersey to date, and be distributed across six different locations within the hospital's campus.

The solar system will include two rooftop installations, three parking lots with solar carports, and a solar carport on the roof of an existing parking garage.

The solar system will be constructed by Sun Farm Network, and the 10,000 solar cells will be supplied by Canadian Solar, a Canadian company with China-based subsidiaries. While the project is big by hospital standards, Canadian Solar has been involved on much larger projects including a deal to build a massive 500-megawatt solar power plant in China.

The hospital will spend $9 million on the project with additional funding being supplied by the PSE&G Hospital Efficiency Program, a new solar funding program from the New Jersey utility Public Service Electric and Gas Company.

The program will allow the hospital to pay back loans at 0 percent interest and through the use of NJ Solar Renewable Energy Credits (SRECs). The way N.J. policy is set up, one SREC is earned for every megawatt-hour of solar energy created, according to PSE&G.

Through the use of SRECs, the state has managed to empower many different types of organizations to finance and benefit from solar installations.

When complete, the solar system is expected to generate 2.3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity annually, and save the hospital $10 million in energy costs within 25 years.

Solar energy dovetails with the hospital's overall goal of keeping people healthy by reducing the state's carbon footprint and thereby contributing to a reduction in local air pollution, according to Sun Farm Network CEO Mark Warner.

"We expect that a statewide network of Solar Farms will provide a significant fraction of New Jersey's electricity over the next few decades--and all New Jersey residents will benefit from fixed-cost electricity that is clean, renewable, and generated right here at home," Sun Farm Network said in a statement.