5MW Solar + Storage For U.S. University

University of California, Merced - solar energy

University of California, Merced Shooting For 100% Renewables

The University of California’s Merced campus will soon have a 5MW solar power system installed, along with 500kW of battery storage.

SunPower Corp. will be installing a carport and rooftop system, with the energy storage solution supplied by Stem.

The system, to be financed by a power purchase agreement (PPA), will help UC Merced towards its “triple zero” goal – net zero energy, net zero greenhouse gas emissions and zero waste by 2020.

Net zero energy means producing as much energy from renewable sources as is consumed by a facility. UC Merced says it is the first university campus in the USA to attempt to power its buildings with 100% renewable energy.

“We have always set ambitious goals for sustainability in our campus construction and operations, and this partnership with SunPower will help us reach those goals,” said UC Merced director of sustainability, Colleen McCormick.

Adding to the energy challenge is the Merced 2020 Project, which will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and enable enrollment growth to 10,000 students.

This will be the second installation for UC Merced using SunPower solar panels. A 1-megawatt ground-mounted system with 4,900 panels and tracking has been operating on campus since 2009.

solar panels, UC Merced

Combined, the two systems should supply more than 50 percent of UC Merced’s electricity requirements.

Solar Energy Across UC

SunPower has popped up elsewhere at UC, with the company stating it is responsible for more than 70 percent of solar under construction or operating at its campuses; including Berkeley, Davis, Riverside and Santa Barbara.

Solar is playing an important role in providing electricity to the University of California and helping it meet sustainability goals. Last year, Five Points Solar Park in Fresno County started operations, part of the largest solar electricity purchase ever made by a U.S. university. An additional 20-megawatts of off-site solar is expected to be online soon. Combined, the solar farms will supply approximately 14 percent of UC’s total annual energy requirements.

In addition to Five Points, approximately 36MW of solar was installed on-site across UC’s campuses at the beginning of this year, enough to power 10,000 homes. A further 18.3 megawatts should be in place by the end of 2017.

As well as providing cheap, clean power, the solar installations offer research and educational opportunities for the university’s faculty, students and staff.

The entire UC system has a goal of being carbon-neutral by no later than 2025.

About Michael Bloch

Michael caught the solar power bug after purchasing components to cobble together a small off-grid PV system in 2008. He's been reporting on Australian and international solar energy news ever since.

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