The University of California (UC) is making the largest purchase of solar energy by a higher education institution. Earlier this week it announced that it signed agreements to supply 206,000 megawatt-hours per year (MWh/year) of solar energy to the California grid through solar farms totaling 80 megawatts of solar panels, for then next 25 years.
The university system signed two power purchase agreements (PPAs) with Frontier Renewables for the power. The university system became a registered Electric Service Provider earlier this year, which allows the university’s Wholesale Power Program to supply electric power to UC Irvine and its medical center, UC Merced, UC San Diego and its medical center, UC San Francisco and its medical center, and UC Santa Cruz, under direct access rules.
The new PPAs are in addition to the 11.4 megawatts of solar panels already installed at its various locations. It’s also in addition to the 22.9 megawatts of solar panels in construction within the upcoming year.
“As part of the ongoing fight against climate change, the University of California is leading by example,” Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) CEO Rhone Resch said. “When completed, this exciting project is expected to offset about 60 percent of the electricity used each day at half of the state’s 10 campuses. This is a significant step forward.”
The university system is aggressively pushing a goal of carbon neutrality by 2025. “As a national leader in sustainability, the University of California is taking on bold, new goals and transforming our approach to procuring and using energy in more sustainable ways,” said UC President Janet Napolitano. “Our partnership with Frontier Renewables will ensure that UC has a steady supply of cost-effective, climate-neutral electricity.”
The 80 megawatts of solar power will consist of two solar farms being built in Fresno County, Calif. The projects are approved and slated for completion by the end of 2016.
Under the partnership Frontier Renewables may also consider education partnerships with UC researchers and students. The partnerships could allow researchers access to the solar farms or the creation of a field station on the project site. It could also result in internships, technology testing and curriculum development.Tweet