The University of California, Santa Cruz signed a PPA with renewable energy company ForeFront Power for a 2-megawatt solar parking canopy structure and energy storage system. UC Santa Cruz anticipates saving $6 million on electricity costs during the 20-year project term.
Besides offering onsite solar energy, this project will include 1.2 MW of energy storage in order to reduce peak demand and shift load to times of day when electricity is cheaper, UCSC and ForeFront Power say. The combination helps maximize renewable energy generation and enhances onsite sustainability, they added.
“The inclusion of energy storage increases the value of the onsite solar project to the university,” said Go Mizoguchi, co-CEO of ForeFront Power. “The university is able to save even more money while incurring no upfront cost.”
The solar parking canopy project contributes to the university’s 2017–2022 Campus Sustainability Plan. Among the goals outlined in the plan is one for installing 4 MW of solar photovoltaic technology on the main campus.
In addition, the project falls under the university’s system-wide Carbon Neutrality Initiative to make the campus carbon neutral by 2025. Over 3 million kilowatt-hours of electricity from the project will result in more than 2,500 tons of carbon dioxide equivalent avoided from the grid, according to UCSC and ForeFront Power.
Currently the university has a 250-KW photovoltaic array on the McHenry Library that provides 25% of the building’s annual electrical energy needs as well as 75 to 100% of the power needed during peak times of the year.
UCSC procured renewable energy with ForeFront Power through School Project for Utility Rate Reduction (SPURR), which was formed for the purpose of seeking reduction and control of utility rates on behalf of its members and other program participants. SPURR programs include the procurement of solar and energy storage, LED lights and controls, and electricity demand response.
ForeFront Power plans to work with local Santa Cruz businesses on the solar parking canopy structure installation. Construction is expected to happen in phases to minimize effects on students and faculty. UCSC and ForeFront Power say that engineers have already started working closely with the university staff on a safe connection to the campus grid, which includes a natural gas-fueled cogeneration plant.
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