Did you know Johns Hopkins has been on a major clean energy push? They’ve taken major steps to set a great example as a major Baltimore City institution that, on a peak day in the summer, uses the same amount of power as 53,000 Baltimore homes. The campus and hospital has been operating a substantial solar farm announced in 2016 that produces around 13 megawatts of solar energy. That’s enough power to cover 1/5 of the energy needs for the entire organization on a peak day.
The solar farm has over 43,000 panels and covers over 98 acres. The actual farm is 60 miles away from East Baltimore and is over the Bay Bridge. You can see it gleaming right near where Route 50 and Route 404 meet, on one of the many stretches of farm land on the route to the beach.
The solar farm was a substantial investment by Hopkins that took advantage of available solar energy tax credits. The facilities team at Hopkins negotiated a 20 year lease for maximum savings with SolarCity, the vendor that installed the panels.
The switch to solar for a portion of the campus power needs pays off. The whole initiative saves Johns Hopkins between $2 million and $6 millions over the life cycle of the lease. The total amount saved depends on the future cost of electricity.
The popularity of solar farms on the Eastern Shore has surged in recent years to the point where several counties imposed temporary moratiums on new solar farms in order to give them time to develop the appropriate rules and sanctions. The entire region is heavily farmland-based, and solar companies were feasting during a 2 year cycle centered around 2016. The moratiums are still not fully lifted in some counties, but blocks have been lifted on several large-scale new solar projects.