Heading into the start of the Fall 2023 semester, Univ. of Arizona students should enjoy hanging out along the corner of 4th and Highland.

A brand new 20-foot solar canopy will not only give them plenty of shade; the project will also collect energy to power campus.

Nine On Your Side talked to UA’s Planning, Design & Construction (PDC) team about this partnership Tucson Electric and Power. They said TEP is donating the panels, while the school will handle construction.

This solar canopy isn’t the first of its kind of campus a similar structure already provides shade on the top of the ENR-2 building. “We wanted to do another one, right in the middle of the Student Success Disrtrict,” project manager Ralph Banks said.

Banks, the executive director of PDC’s Engineering, Design & Construction team, said this demonstration will use a new generation of two-surfaced, or bi-facial, panels. They should generate 29 kilowatts of power; enough energy to power three or four homes.

“This new generation is able to capture light from all surfaces the upper surfaces and also the lower surface,” he said.

Once crews install the new bifacial panels on top of the frame, the university’s hope is the new technology yields better results. Banks said this second-generation should collect between 25-30 percent more energy than previous models.

The new project, Banks said, also has faculty members in other specialties interested in how this renewable energy strategy can help them innovate. “Certainly, our College of Agriculture is interested because they have a lot of research going on right now regarding agro-voltaics,” Banks said.

The goal is for the canopy to be up and running by August 2023.