MURRAY, Ky. (July 9, 2021) - On Friday, Gov. Andy Beshear congratulated the Murray State University (MSU) Hutson School of Agriculture, which has partnered with Sunway Energy Solutions, based in Murray, and GREE Electric Appliances, based in Zhuhai, China, to build a solar HVAC system on the University West Farm.
The donated system will provide sustainable energy for the West Farm Shop, a multiuse facility which was previously devoid of any temperature controls, helping students and area farmers alike learn about agrivoltaics, an agritech method that can increase both food and energy security.
"This agrivoltaics system will offer the students here with hands-on training and learning with some of the most advanced technology available," said Gov. Beshear. "If you are a current or prospective Murray State student - this is your ticket to being part of the emerging industries of the future. This will further our push to make Kentucky the agritech capital of the world and to ensure our people have the well-paying jobs of tomorrow."
"In building this solar HVAC system on campus, MSU is providing its students with hands-on experience with solar technology, a sector where substantial job growth is expected," said Energy and Environment Cabinet (EEC) Secretary Rebecca Goodman. "Gov. Beshear wants Kentucky to become the international leader in agritech - that is why we see a bright future in agrivoltaics, the use of solar panels on farms to make farms self-sustaining while ensuring food production."
In addition to agriculture students, MSU tentatively hopes to bring in data analysis, data management, engineering, software development and computer science students as the project and energy hub grows.
"Murray State University is very pleased to welcome Gov. Beshear, Secretary Goodman and other guests to campus to talk about the exciting agritech initiatives occurring within our Hutson School of Agriculture," said MSU President Dr. Bob Jackson. "Murray State will continue to lead and partner with the commonwealth on new and innovative agricultural opportunities for the economic advancement of our region and state."
"Murray State Agriculture has been a leader in agritech development with projects such our Equine Laboratory Bioburner heating project, the establishment of an Unmanned Aerial Systems program, and our pioneering work in agricultural hemp. We are extremely grateful to expand our agritech projects with this solar project," said Dr. Tony Brannon, Dean of the Hutson School of Agriculture. "We appreciate the help of Henderson County Farmer Robbie Williams and MSU Agriculture graduate and Sunway owner, Todd Powell, along with all the sponsoring parties for bringing this donation and installation project to fruition. As we continue into the rapidly expanding era of renewable energy on the farm, there are so many teachable opportunities afforded by this project which provides an education for our students, instead of just a degree, and also provides a demonstration site as a pilot resource for area farmers."
GREE supplied a 4-ton solar-assist heat pump and Sunway Energy Solutions engineered and installed the 12-module solar array that will operate the heat pump.
This is the first phase of the project and MSU will continue the development of phase two in collaboration with EEC's Office of Energy Policy.
To learn more about Gov. Beshear's Kentucky Agritech initiative, visit agritech.ky.gov. To see success stories of Kentucky companies leading the industry, including AppHarvest, AppleAtcha, Alltech, Kentucky BioProcessing, Lepidext, Space Tango, Kentucky Fresh Harvest, Stellar Plants, West Kentucky Aquaponics, AgConnections, Smart Farm Systems, TapLogic, Kentucky AgriTech LLC, Silver Fern Group and RedLeaf, visit agritech.ky.gov/Success-Stories/.