UC Riverside has partnered with San Jose-based SunPower Corp. to convert 11 acres on the west side of campus to a 3-megawatt solar energy farm that will meet some of the school's electrical power needs, officials announced today.
"Three megawatts is about 30 percent of our base load on a daily basis. Our peak load is 17 or 18 megawatts," said Ken Mueller, director of UCR Physical Plant Operations. "This is a good start, and the campus will use 100 percent of the power that we generate."
The university signed a 20-year power purchase agreement with SunPower, which will construct and maintain the photovoltaic system, slated to be in place by July, adjacent to the UCR Community Garden and the International Village Apartments, just east of Interstate 215.
Mueller noted that the campus's ongoing expansion will likely necessitate displacing some or all of the solar farm in the future, but he called the generating facility "an outstanding use of the land" for the next two decades.
"We have had very favorable electrical rates with Riverside Public Utilities, but recently the price of solar has come down to where it is competitive with that electrical rate," Mueller said. "We will be getting the most cost-effective solar array on the market."
According to campus officials, the UCR solar farm will be larger than anything comparable in the 10-campus UC system.
The project dovetails with the UC Policy on Sustainable Practices, which encourages each campus to produce 10 megawatts of on-site renewable power by the end of this year, according to UCR.—City News Service