Colorado State University: A Midscale Market Solar Customer Case Study

Research output: NRELTechnical Report


Despite substantial increases in solar photovoltaic (PV) deployment between 2005 and 2015, a large untapped market for solar PV deployment still exists in midscale market investments by universities. Recent estimates show that if all universities in the United States installed enough solar PV to meet 25% of their annual electricity consumption, this would cumulatively result in just over 16 gigawatts (GW) of additional installed PV capacity. Within this context, midscale market projects - loosely defined as solar PV installations ranging from 100 kilowatts (kW) to 2 megawatts (MW), but more broadly representing installations not captured in the residential or utility-scale sectors - could be an attractive option for universities. This case study focuses on one university solar customer, Colorado State University (CSU), to provide a detailed example of the challenges, solutions, and opportunities associated with university solar power procurement. Between 2009 and 2015, a combined 6,754 kW of both ground-mounted and rooftop solar PV was installed across multiple CSU campuses in Fort Collins, Colorado. This case study highlights CSU's decision-making process, campus engagement strategies, and relationships with state, local, and utility partners, which have culminated in significant on-campus PV deployment.
Original languageAmerican English
Number of pages28
StatePublished - 2016

NREL Publication Number

  • NREL/TP-7A40-67540


  • colorado state university
  • midscale market
  • photovoltaics
  • solar
  • universities


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