The University of Richmond has announced their partnership with sPower’s Spotsylvania Solar Energy Center that is to be developed in the next two years to contribute to their 2050 carbon neutrality goals. The university is supposed to have 20 MWs of the 500 MW solar development, which should produce enough energy to account for 100% of the electricity usage on campus. This will make the University of Richmond the first institution of higher education in the southeast to match 100% of its electricity needs with solar energy and will decrease the university’s greenhouse gas emissions by 60% (University of Richmond 2019). While this is a huge step for the university, the solar development has been receiving a lot of opposition from the community of Spotsylvania in concern for the potential environmental impacts that will come from the solar project. This solar project is extremely large scale and has unavoidable environmental impacts, but sPower has designed extensive mitigation strategies to combat them. This report discusses where those environmental concerns are coming from, focusing specifically on erosion and storm water runoff from the installation of the solar panels, as well as the mitigation strategies designed by sPower. The goal of this report is to look further into the information released to the public by sPower, to expand on the information in a simpler but educational way, so that any stakeholder of the solar project can understand the information presented.
Paper prepared for the Geography Capstone.
Faculty Advisor: Dr. David Salisbury
Lee, Stanford. "Erosion and Storm Water Runoff: sPower Solar Farm Project: Watershed Environmental Analysis." Paper for Geography Capstone, University of Richmond, April 2019.