July 19, 2022

Adventist University Goes 100-Percent Solar

Institution is first in the Dominican Republic with such a system, leaders said.

Dominican Adventist University and Inter-American Division News
Part of the field on campus where solar panels generate renewable electricity to power the entire UNAD campus. [Photo: Dominican Adventist University]

Dominican Adventist University (UNAD), an institution operated by the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Dominican Republic, recently became the first higher-education institution in the country to install a solar-power plant able to supply 100 percent of its electricity. This development covers both the main campus in Villa Sonador and the extension campus in Santo Domingo, school leaders reported.

Municipal authorities, business entrepreneurs, regional church leaders, and university leaders cut the ribbon at the plant during a recent special ceremony.

“As an institution we are committed to caring for natural resources as part of our Adventist educational philosophy, as stewards of God,” UNAD president José David Gómez said. “By using solar energy through these photovoltaic [solar] panels, UNAD is helping to reduce the production of carbon dioxide, the loss of thousands of trees, as well as the reduction of global warming.”

UNAD becomes the first of 53 higher-education institutions operating in the Dominican Republic with such a system. Several institutions are operating partly through solar energy but not at 100 percent as UNAD is, Gómez said.

The plant, which was installed near a former soccer field, has an installed capacity of 574 kWp to generate 2,306 kWh per day, which translates into a savings of 110.82 percent of the electric monthly consumption of the entire campus, Gómez explained. The first solar plant system was installed in December 2021 on UNAD’s extension campus in Santo Domingo.

“Through this renewable energy solution, it is projected that there will be a return on investment in three and a half years, taking into account that the actual cost is 9.89 [Dominican] pesos per kWh,” Gómez said. “With a cost of upwards of 34 million [Dominican] pesos [approximately US$624,000] with the solar system being guaranteed for 25 years, this will generate savings of more than 200 million pesos.”

With the cost of electric energy continuing to increase gradually, and the payment of the electricity bill being an expense, not an investment, this system will continue to save thousands in the coming years, he said.

The government has enacted Public Act 139-01 and 122-05, which allow for energy plants to generate 100 percent of the needs of an institution, Gómez added. In some countries, these solar systems are restricted because it means a loss for electric energy companies, he said. “This [act] allows not-for-profit higher educational institutions like UNAD to be exempt from interest payments.”

The project began in 2020 with a special commission to study the energy needs of the university. Then the university accepted bids from 10 suppliers, Gómez said.

Faye Patterson, education director for the Inter-American Division (IAD) of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, said that UNAD is the leader in renewable electricity among the 14 Adventist universities in IAD.

“We congratulate Dominican Adventist University for this outstanding project, which sends a message that Seventh-day Adventists do care about the environment. It is also demonstrating how to save financially and care for the environment with this alternative solar energy system,” Patterson said.

Established in 1946 as Colegio Adventista Dominicano, and later renamed Dominican Adventist University, UNAD offers 10 undergraduate degrees and five postgraduate degrees. The university is accredited by the Adventist Accreditation Agency and the national government in the Dominican Republic.

Bernardo Medina and Antonio Salazar contributed to this report. The original version of this story was posted on the Inter-American Division news site.