Alliant & Iowa State Start Solar Farm

Pictured: Alliant Energy and Iowa State University solar farm map. Photo courtesy of Iowa State University.

Alliant Energy and Iowa State University will collaborate on a solar farm to be established on university land south of Ames. 

The Iowa Board of Regents has approved a request from Iowa State to proceed with the development of the solar farm and to enter into a lease agreement with Alliant Energy. Alliant Energy will design, construct, own, operate and maintain the solar farm.  

“This new collaboration is the latest in our long-standing partnership with Alliant Energy to prepare our communities, state and nation for the future of energy and power,” says Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen. “The public-private partnership represented in the new solar farm will be a significant step in making progress on our mutual renewable energy and sustainability goals.” 

Last year, Wintersteen endorsed a five-year strategic plan for sustainability in operations, which includes goals for tripling the use of renewable energies and a longer-term goal of carbon neutrality. 

The solar farm also furthers Alliant Energy’s goals to eliminate all coal from its generation fleet by 2040 and achieve net-zero carbon dioxide emissions from the electricity it generates by 2050.  

“Iowa State University has been an outstanding partner and we are proud to work with them as we strive toward sustainability together,” says Terry Kouba, president of Alliant Energy’s Iowa utility. “Alliant Energy has proudly served customers for more than 100 years and we look forward to using innovation to continue to deliver safe, reliable, cleaner energy to customers and communities.” 

The solar farm will be located on land that is part of animal science teaching and research farms managed by the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and its Department of Animal Science. The farms are devoted to beef, sheep, swine, poultry and dairy, and also include the Ag450 Farm, the only student-managed farm at the nation’s land-grant schools.  

The up to 900-kilowatt solar farm, at maximum output, could power 230 homes annually and will provide an equal amount of electricity to nearby teaching and research farms. Iowa State will receive renewable energy credits generated by the solar farm, which will off-set a portion of the university’s annual carbon emissions.  

Beyond the production of renewable energy, Alliant Energy and Iowa State University are exploring future partnerships to take advantage of the solar farm for education, research, demonstration and training purposes. 

Construction could begin in late 2022 or 2023. Construction and timeline for the solar farm is contingent on survey results, permitting, regulatory changes and equipment supply.