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UC San Diego Installing
Another Megawatt of Solar Power,
Boosting Renewable-Energy Portfolio

May 27, 2011

By Rex Graham

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Daniel Sullivan
“This project will showcase how we as a region and nation can power all our needs with the sun,” says Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power.

Sullivan Solar Power has begun installing nearly 1 megawatt of additional photovoltaic (PV) capacity at UC San Diego, as part of a $3.52-million project made possible with a $1.2-million rebate from the California Solar Initiative and low-interest federal Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) financing.

The $3.52 million in bonds, which carry a 2.07 percent interest rate, will be paid back with the rebate and energy savings the campus will realize by installing the solar improvements.

When San Diego-based Sullivan Solar Power completes the 830-kilowatt PV project in March 2012, the panels will boost UC San Diego’s solar-energy capacity to 2 megawatts and increase its total renewable-energy portfolio to nearly 5 megawatts. The campus’ peak electricity demand is about 40 megawatts.

“The university is incredibly fortunate to have access to utility rebates and low-interest federal financing for renewable-energy projects at a time when state government is slashing support to higher education,” said Gary C. Matthews, vice chancellor of Resource Management and Planning. “This project will save the campus money, reduce our emissions of greenhouse gases and help us in our efforts to become a climate neutral campus by 2025.”

The California Solar Initiative, which is funded by California electric consumers and is overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC), has exhausted its supply of rebates faster than anticipated. California Senate Bill 585, sponsored by State Sen. Christine Kehoe (D-San Diego), would give the CPUC authority to boost funding of the initiative to spur investment in more projects like UC San Diego’s new solar project.

Daniel Sullivan
UC San Diego currently has 1.2 megawatts of solar PV capacity installed on campus rooftops and parking garages. The new PV panels will give the campus more than 2 megawatts of solar capacity.

“We can all agree that our local municipalities, school districts, universities, and businesses have benefitted from the Solar Initiative,” said Kehoe. “That’s why I introduced legislation this year to ensure that California accomplishes its Solar Initiative goals. SB 585 could help many more solar projects get off the ground when the state needs the jobs.”

The Clean Renewable Energy Bonds (CREBs) program was created as part of a larger economic stimulus bill passed by Congress in 2008. The total national allocation for the program was $800 million, with 19 percent of that amount allocated to public agencies in the San Diego region. CleanTECH San Diego facilitated a collaborative effort involving legal, engineering, and financial-resource firms as well as UC San Diego to successfully compete for the disproportionately large CREBs allocation to the region.

Sullivan Solar crews have begun installing 830 kilowatts of Sharp Solar panels at six locations at UC San Diego: the Englekirk Structural Engineering Center, Scripps Institution of Oceanography support building, Campus Receiving and Distribution Facility, Elliott Field Station, Nimitz Marine Facility and the Bachman Canyon Parking Structure. The company said the work at UC San Diego will create 20 high-paying jobs and will be completed in early 2012.

“We are thrilled to have been chosen by UC San Diego, a leader in adopting renewable technologies,” said Daniel Sullivan, founder and president of Sullivan Solar Power. “This project will showcase how we as a region and nation can power all our needs with the sun.”

In addition, UC San Diego is partnering with other solar companies to demonstrate new solar technologies. For example, Soitec has installed a 6-kilowatt sun-tracking, light-concentrating PV array and is planning to construct a larger demonstration array on the campus.

UC San Diego currently has 1.2 megawatts of solar PV capacity installed on campus rooftops and parking garages. The new panels will give the campus more than 2 megawatts of solar capacity. By the end of 2011, the university also will complete a 2.8-megawatt fuel cell that will convert methane gas from the city of San Diego’s Point Loma Wastewater Treatment Plant directly into electricity. The fuel cell and PV projects will boost UC San Diego’s renewable-energy generating capacity to nearly 5 megawatts.

UC San Diego is engaged in a variety of solar and alternative-energy research and development projects, operating as a living laboratory involving research with significant potential benefits to the solar industry in California. For example, the California Energy Commission in May awarded $469,447 to Jan Kleissl, a UC San Diego professor of environmental engineering, to develop solar-forecasting tools that are considered crucial to help utility companies and large power grids manage technical challenges inherent with the variability of renewable energy projects.

 

Media Contact: Rex Graham, 858-534-2248, ragraham@ucsd.edu

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