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, including the main campus in Villa Sonador and the extension campus in Santo Domingo.
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,” said Dr. José David Gómez, president of UNAD. “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. There are several institutions that are operating partly through solar energy, but not at 100 percent like UNAD is, said Dr. Gómez.
The plant, which was installed near where there used to be a 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, explained Gómez. 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 3.5 years, taking into account the actual cost of RD$9.89 kWh,” said Gómez. “With a cost of upwards of RD$34 million [approximately US$622,000], with the solar system being guaranteed for 25 years, this will generate savings of more than RD$200 million.”
With electric energy continuing to increase gradually, the payment of the electricity bill is an expense, not an investment, so this system will continue to save thousands in the coming years, Gómez exclaimed.
The government has enacted Law 139-01 and 122-05, which allows for energy plants to generate 100 percent of the needs of an institution, added Gómez. In some countries, these solar power systems are restricted to this alternative because it means a loss to electric energy companies, according to him. “This 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 ten suppliers, said Gómez.
Dr. Faye Patterson, education director for the church in the Inter-American Division, said that Dominican Adventist University is the leader in renewable electricity among the 14 Adventist universities in Inter-America.
“We congratulate Dominican Adventist University for this outstanding project, which sends a message that Seventh-day Adventists do care about the environment and [are] demonstrating how to save financially and care for the environment with this alternative solar energy system,” said Patterson.
Established in 1946 as Colegio Adventista Dominicano, then later renamed Dominican Adventist University, UNAD offers ten undergraduate degrees and five postgraduate degrees. The university is accredited by the Adventist Accreditation Agency and the national government in the Dominican Republic.
To learn more about Dominican Adventist University and its degree programs, projects, and activities, visit unad.edu.do.
Bernardo Medina and Antonio Salazar contributed information to this article.