UC Riverside has opened a brand new solar farm that will produce up to 6.6 million megawatt hours of electricity each year. That is the equivalent of powering 960 homes for a year.
The ribbon cutting, at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Nov. 13, will include Chancellor Kim A. Wilcox, local government officials, student leaders, and representatives of SunPower Corporation. It will be held on the solar farm site, which is next to UCR’s Community Garden. Parking will be available in Lot 30.
The project supports the system-wide University Policy on Sustainable Practices, which calls on each campus to contribute to the production of up to 10 megawatts of on-site renewable power by 2014. Wendell Brase, UC Irvine’s vice chancellor for administrative and business services, will attend the ribbon cutting. He is co-chair of UC President Janet Napolitano’s Global Climate Leadership Council.
UCR’s solar array is currently the largest solar array in the University of California system. Other campuses are also quickly adding more solar technology. For instance, UC Irvine opens a large system next year:
UCR signed a 20-year power purchase agreement that allowed the SunPower Corporation to construct, operate and maintain the facility, with the university purchasing the power. UCR spent $350,000 on site clearing and preparation, as well as interconnections costs with the existing substation. The projected savings to the university is $4.3 million over the length of the contract. UCR will also receive carbon and LEED credits that provide additional financial and environmental savings.
The solar farm went online as scheduled on Friday, Sept. 19. It has 7,440 panels across the 11-acre site using GPS tracking to slowly follow the sun across the sky. The massive sea of shiny panels is visible from Highway 60 as thousands of cars pass the campus.
“This is a big step forward, and we plan to do more,” said John Cook, director of the UCR’s Office of Sustainability. “On a hot and sunny day we will be producing nearly a third of UCR’s total energy needs with this system. But over the course of the year, with variable weather, it will amount to 3 percent of our total energy needs.” He said Riverside’s typical sunny climate will make UCR an especially efficient place to invest in solar technology. With the growing concern of climate change and pollution from fossil fuels, UCR is taking steps to reduce their foot print on the environment and promote the quality of life for all through intelligent growth of their campus.
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