Construction will take place this summer. But the company doesn’t plan to stop there.
“That half megawatt will eventually turn into three megawatts, once we get that permitted,” explained Paul Bonifas, 9H Energy’s director of operations.
The electricity generated from the complete, three-megawatt solar facility would then raise an estimated $10 million over its 20-year lifespan. Those proceeds would be donated back to the university to fund the clean energy engineering program and new curriculum. The money could also back related research projects led by UW students and faculty.
UW is already renowned for training students in energy engineering. To Bonifas, it’s a no-brainer to add renewable energy to the mix.
Bonifas, a UW alum who focused on petroleum and chemical engineering, wants to make the state a magnet for clean energy researchers and students eager to advance the field.
The organization has already started collaborating with Cameron Wright, UW’s interim dean of the College of Engineering, and dozens of students across disciplines. Recently, it funded a student competition in solar and energy storage design.
“We just want to add to the university’s repertoire,” Bonifas said. “We’re not trying to replace anything. We just want more jobs, and more opportunities for students in the state, whether that be from traditional mining operations, oil and gas or the renewables sphere.”