University of Louisiana at Lafayette studies solar farming despite pushback

Just over a mile northwest of the Cajundome is a 5-acre plot of land flanked by neighborhoods of single-family homes and a commercial area to the north — not the type of zone one would normally expect to see a power plant — yet there one is, silently generating enough electricity to run 250 homes without a hint of pollution, waste or human traffic. It is the University of Louisiana-Lafayette’s solar farm.

Its rows of solar panels generate much more than electricity. Officially called the ULL Photovoltaic Applied Research and Testing (PART) Lab, the solar farm is a tool that allows the university’s engineers and scientists to study and test some of the latest renewable energy technologies from across the nation.

In charge of the facility is Professor Terrence Chambers, who holds a doctorate in mechanical engineering and is the director of the Energy Efficiency and Sustainability Energy Center. Instrumental in building the $4 million solar farm, Chambers funded the project through a fossil fuels company that needed to donate to the community as part of settling pollution violations with the Environmental Protection Agency.

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