Planet Blue Renewable Energy Demonstration Project

straw bale building solar panels

The Planet Blue Renewable Energy Demonstration Project provides funding for students, faculty, and staff to design and implement renewable energy demonstration projects. Stationing small-scale renewable energy generators on campus is intended to provide interactive learning and research opportunities for the campus community. 

This initiative is a direct outcome of a 2015 report from the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Committee and is administered by the Office of Campus Sustainability.

How to Apply

Applications have closed because all funding is currently allocated. If additional funding becomes available, we’ll be sure to update this info. 

Proposals are evaluated by a review committee in two stages. The initial proposal should include the overall scope of the project, research/curriculum relationship, estimated contribution toward U-M’s GHG reduction goal, and anticipated benefits to the university community. 

If the initial proposal is approved, applicants will be asked to complete a more detailed proposal. This project is available to the U-M Ann Arbor campus only.

Each project must meet the following criteria:
  • Project must be connected to ongoing curriculum and/or research and have learning outcomes with student involvement.   
  • Project must include a long-term management plan, including maintenance and end-of-life disposal.
  • Project must adhere to all state, federal and University of Michigan safety rules and regulations.
  • If the project is located outside of a building it must be approved by the Exterior Elements Design Review committee.
  • Project must identify technical requirements and have a clearly defined budget, proposed schedule, and outcome.
  • Application should identify the needs for a location. A specific location can be proposed, but is not required. 

For more information, please contact Ken Keeler at

Funded Projects

Funding supported the installation of solar-powered charging tables at West Quad and North Campus Recreation Building in early 2021 to promote sustainable device charging and health and wellness during the pandemic and beyond. 

An award was granted to Associate Professor Joseph Trumpey to install a small photovoltaic system that powers the off-grid straw bale building at the Campus Farm.

Radrick Farms Golf Course was awarded funding to install a solar-powered aerator for one of the course ponds. The system improves the health of the pond through increased oxygenation of the water and reduces unsightly algae build-up.

Anna Stefanopoulou, Director of the U-M Energy Institute, was awarded funding to perform a preliminary design and cost analysis for installing a charging system for an electric bus fleet.

Jose Alfaro, Assistant Professor with the School for Environment and Sustainability, plans to build a bio-waste gasifier at the Matthaei Botanical Gardens near the Campus Farm with student help. 

Projects under Consideration

Geoff Lewis, Research Specialist Lead with U-M School for Environment and Sustainability, has requested funds for a system designed to collect and display information about the existing Dana Building photovoltaic system.

A picnic table with a roof made of solar panels