UCSD's solar installation reduces the university's carbon emissions by an amount equivalent to the effect of planting 661 acres of trees

La Jolla, CA

University of California San Diego

Overview

University of California San Diego partnered with Borrego Solar and installed 7,290 solar modules all over the main La Jolla campus and the Birch Aquarium on building tops, above parking lots, and in other locations where they catch the sun and also provide shade below.

The solar installation coincides with the research institution’s establishment of their Sustainability 2.0 Initiative. This initiative builds on UCSD’s historically strong disciplinary and interdisciplinary research enterprise and the foundation established by its campus that has helped unravel the causes of global warming.

Installation

Now complete, UCSD’s system consists of 7,290 Kyocera solar modules that are mounted on the Hopkins Parking Structure, Campus Services Complex (CSC), Price Center Buildings 1-4, Gilman Parking Structure, Birch Aquarium, Engineering Buildings Unit 2 South & 2 North, Fleet Services Garage, and the East Campus Utility Plant (ECUP) across the 1,200-acre campus. These installations are a combination of roof mounted systems and groves of “solar trees” or carport structures that provide shade to the cars on the top of several campus parking structures.

This system contributes substantially to the 29 million kilowatt-hours per year of green energy that UCSD expects its overall efforts to produce, which is enough electricity to power more than 4,500 homes. UCSD’s program offsets approximately 10,500 tons of carbon emissions per year, which is the equivalent of removing 1,500 cars from the road annually.

Benefits

The first phase of the installation was just under 1 megawatt in size and cost approximately $9 million. The project was financed through a power purchase agreement (PPA). This type of arrangement enables UCSD to access solar generated electricity without incurring the capital or long-term operational costs to procure and run the system. The PPA provider (system owner) brings together the project financing, development oversight and long-term operations and maintenance of the solar facility, and will sell all of the electricity produced by the system to the university at predetermined and predictable rates.

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