The university self-generates about 85% of its electricity needs with an ultra-clean and efficient natural-gas-fired cogeneration plant and solar photovoltaics.
Clean Energy Production
San Diego Mayor Jerry Sanders (left); André-Jacques Auberton-Hervé, CEO and chairman of France-based Soitec; and James Avery, SDG&E’s senior vice president of power supply, announce at UC San Diego a 25-year contract for up to 150 megawatts of solar energy.
- Cogeneration: The campus operates a 30-megawatt natural-gas-fired combined heat and power system that provides 85% of the campus’s annual electricity needs. The plant has received an Environmental Protection Agency Energy Star CHP Award for its high efficiency and low emissions: the plant’s 66% operating efficiency helps the campus save $8 million per year in energy costs.
- Photovoltaics: The 1.2-megawatt PV system on campus is expanding to 2 megawatts in 2011. The campus network includes conventional flat panels, sun-tracking and -concentrating PV, and a PV energy storage demonstration project.
- Fuel Cell: The 2.8-megawatt fuel cell to be completed in 2011 will be the largest on any college campus, providing about 8% of UC San Diego’s total energy needs. It will have enough capacity to power 2,800 homes. The project will turn waste methane gas from the Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant directly into electricity without combustion.
- Solar-thermal: A 300-kilowatt solar water-heating system installed at the North Campus Housing Phase II project is one of the largest solar-thermal projects at a North American university.
- Building retrofits: The campus is in the midst of a $73 million program to increase the energy efficiency of 25 of its older buildings, with a goal of lowering their combined energy consumption by at least $6 million a year. An estimated $14 million will come from utility company incentives and $59 million in low-interest bonds to be repaid with cost savings. An earlier $60 million program is saving the university $12 million a year.
- LEED building standards: All new construction projects must meet LEED Silver certification or better, which ensures that structures maximize energy savings, water efficiency, CO2 emissions reduction, improved indoor environmental quality, and stewardship of resources and sensitivity to their impacts. The Mesa Child Development Center and the Sustainability Resource Center are LEED Gold certified.
After installing energy-efficient servers, the San Diego Supercomputer Center realized substantial savings. Photo: Alan Decker
- Green Grid: The San Diego Supercomputer Center, the largest data center on the UC San Diego campus, joined The Green Grid, a global consortium of companies dedicated to advancing energy efficiency in data centers and computing ecosystems.
- Green Computer Processing: The GreenLight project at the UC San Diego division of the California Institute for Telecommunications and Information Technology, or Calit2, is connecting the San Diego Supercomputer Center recently replaced 514 older computer servers with 270 new energy-efficient models that save $680,000 annually.
UC San Diego’s highly efficient natural-gas-fired cogeneration power plant saves the university $670,000 per month in energy costs. Photo: Rhett Miller
- Central Utilities Plant: The plant’s control room has become the hub of an evolving campus microgrid, managing the cogeneration plant, steam and chilled-water system, and photovoltaic and fuel-cell generation. The energy management system enables the campus to save $210,000 over the winter break and participate in demand-response exercises to help state electric power providers cope with energy emergencies.
- Energy Innovation Park: UC San Diego has grouped energy, fuel and cooling facilities on the east side of the main campus including a 2.8-megawatt fuel cell, a high-efficiency, sun-tracking photovoltaic array, CNG fueling station and a chiller plant to provide cold water to the nearby Moores UCSD Cancer Center and Shiley Eye Center.
- Energy Dashboard: Cutting-edge technology developed at UC San Diego to improve the efficiency of the campus’s energy management system is saving $900,000 a year, reducing energy consumption by 19 million kilowatt-hours, and lowering emissions of greenhouse gases by 9,600 metric tons a year.
- Student initiatives: Undergraduates have deployed a network of weather-monitoring stations to help the university use ocean breezes to cool buildings, identify the sunniest rooftops to expand its solar-electric system, and use water more efficiently in irrigation and other ways.
UC San Diego’s 2.8-megawatt fuel cell is partly financed through a power-purchase agreement.
- Power-purchase agreements: UC San Diego signed a power-purchase agreement, or PPA, with Solar Power Partners to develop a 1.2-megawatt photovoltaic system. The PPA enables the university to take advantage of solar power without using any upfront cash. The campus’s 2.8-megawatt fuel-cell project will utilize a similar PPA.
- Clean Renewable Energy Bonds: The Internal Revenue Service has allocated $154 million in bonds for financing renewable energy projects for public facilities under the Clean Renewable Energy Bonds program, known as CREBs. UC San Diego will receive $15 million for 15 projects, including the addition in 2011 of nearly 1 megawatt of photovoltaics.
- Incentives: UC San Diego has received a variety of incentives that have funded projects, including $7.65 million through the state Self Generation Incentive Program for a 2.8-megawatt fuel cell project. The campus could receive $14 million in incentives from San Diego Gas & Electric for a $73 million program to increase the energy efficiency of 25 older campus buildings.
- Private investment: BioFuels Energy, a local firm, will provide $11.35 million in cash investment, loans, and investment tax credits to finance the UC San Diego fuel cell project. Solar Power Partners provided investment capital for 1.2 megawatts of photovoltaic capacity on campus.
- Grants: Smart-grid company Viridity Energy received a $1.66 million grant to develop a distributed energy optimization project at UC San Diego. Overall, the campus received $33 million in 2010 for research related to environmental sustainability.