UC San Diego Enacts Green Energy Initiatives
Jul 21, 2008 - Jim Gogek - RenewableEnergyWorld.com
of California, San Diego, a university that considers
itself to be one of the nation's greenest college campuses,
has begun construction on a sustainable energy program
that it says is among the largest in the nation by a university.
"Our sustainable energy program is the
result of a campus-wide commitment by students, faculty
and administration to advance environmental sustainability
on a local, national and global level."
-- Steve Relyea, Vice Chancellor of Business
Affairs, UC San Diego
The program, which includes solar, biogas
fuel cells and wind energy, began with the first installation
of solar photovoltaic (PV) panels from Borrego Solar atop
a campus utility plant. When the solar portion of the
project is complete, buildings and parking garages across
the 1,200-acre campus next to the Pacific Ocean will feature
solar panels with 2 megawatts (MW) of power capacity.
"This photovoltaic installation marks an
historic event for a campus that has become a living laboratory
for climate change solutions," said Steve Relyea, Vice
Chancellor of Business Affairs. "Our sustainable energy
program is the result of a campus-wide commitment by students,
faculty and administration to advance environmental sustainability
on a local, national and global level."
In addition to the solar photovoltaic project,
UC San Diego will produce another 2.4 MW of energy from
fuel cells powered by renewable methane. The methane fuel
will be transported to UC San Diego from the Point Loma
sewage treatment plant, where it is produced. Construction
on this project will begin this fall. Not only does this
produce green energy that replaces carbon-based energy,
but it also removes pollutants from local air, since the
methane is currently flared into the atmosphere at the
The university is also beginning a program
to swap fossil fuel-generated energy for wind power. The
university will throttle back its natural gas-powered
cogeneration plant at night and replace the power with
electricity purchased from California wind farms. This
project, the first of its kind in California, will generate
up to 3 MW of green energy.
The solar PV and biogas fuel cell construction
projects are cost-free for the university. UC San Diego
has negotiated power purchase agreements (PPAs), in which
investors construct, install and maintain the photovoltaic
panels and fuel cells on campus property, and the university
then buys the power from investors through long-term contracts.
As Scripps Institution of Oceanography at
UC San Diego celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Keeling
Curve, the first measurement of greenhouse gas build-up
that was conducted by Scripps scientist Charles David
Keeling, the university will soon have 7.4 MW of renewable
energy capacity, which will provide 10-15 percent of its
annual electrical usage.
In addition to the green energy initiatives,
researchers and students at UC San Diego are working on
a wide range of environmental sustainability projects,
including developing biofuels from algae and wood debris.
Planners at the school design green dorms with automatic
sun shading to save energy and drainage systems that stop
all storm runoff from flowing into the nearby ocean. And
students and fleet managers have begun a biofuel shuttle
bus line, which decreases UC San Diego's reliance on fossil
UC San Diego has teamed up with local, national
and international companies on its sustainable energy
project. Three partners are working with the university
on the solar PV project. Borrego Solar is the installer
and Envision Solar is the designer of the solar "trees"
that will be built on top of UC San Diego parking structures.
Solar Power Partners is the financier and owner of the
PV arrays. The biogas fuel cells are financed, constructed
and owned by The Linde Group, an international industrial
gases and engineering company.
Jim Gogek is National Media Relations
Director at University of California, San Diego. UC San
Diego, the third largest campus in the University of California
system, is a major public research institution that has
local impact, national influence and global reach.