University of California, Merced Moves Close To Zero Net Energy Goal

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Stem’s PowerStore storage devices, coupled with their PowerMonitor sub-meters, give grid operators immediate access to real-time visibility and fast-acting dispatchable capacity.

The University of California, Merced’s precedent-setting Triple Zero Commitment aims for zero net energy use, the creation of zero net landfill waste and climate neutrality on campus by 2020, a goal that coincides with the university’s expansion project to nearly double the campus’s physical capacity by that same year.

In support of UC Merced’s goals, the university is working with SunPower Corp. to install a 5-megawatt solar power system featuring a carport-and-rooftop installation, complemented by a 500-kilowatt energy storage solution from Stem.

“UC Merced is a sustainability leader in higher education, and we are committed to supporting economic, socially responsible and environmentally conscious initiatives,” said Colleen McCormick, the university’s director of sustainability. “We have always set ambitious goals for sustainability in our campus construction and operations, and this partnership with SunPower will help us reach those goals.”

The system will be UC Merced’s second featuring SunPower® solar technology. A 1-megawatt ground-mounted tracker system has been in operation and exceeding performance expectations since 2009, and the two systems combined are expected to supply more than 50 percent of the campus’s energy needs. UC Merced will own the renewable energy credits (RECs) associated with the new solar energy system, which is estimated to generate clean electricity equal to removing approximately 30,000 cars from the road every year for 25 years.

The 5-megawatt photovoltaic system and 500-kilowatt battery storage system will be financed by a power purchase agreement (PPA). In addition to energy cost savings from solar production, adding Stem’s software-driven energy storage positions UC Merced to achieve significant demand charge savings over the first 10 years of the project.

“It’s an honor to help customers like UC Merced get closer to their sustainability goals with SunPower’s dependable solar solutions,” said Nam Nguyen, SunPower executive vice president. “With a well-regarded reputation for delivering high-efficiency, cost effective solar solutions to schools and higher education facilities nationwide, SunPower looks forward to helping UC Merced achieve the economic and environmental value that SunPower’s quality solar and storage solution enables.”

SunPower has long been a solar partner with the University of California system given the company’s extensive experience delivering innovative energy solutions to higher education customers. SunPower is responsible for more than 70 percent of solar under construction or operating at University of California facilities, which include systems in Berkeley, Davis, Riverside and Santa Barbara.

Attendees at this year’s California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) in Santa Barbara can visit SunPower at Booth 16 to learn more about the benefits of solar for schools.

UC Merced opened in 2005 as the newest campus in the University of California system and the first American research university built in the 21st century. The campus enjoys a special connection with nearby Yosemite National Park, is on the cutting edge of sustainability in construction and design, and supports highly qualified first-generation and underserved students from the San Joaquin Valley and throughout California. The Merced 2020 Project, a $1.3 billion public-private partnership that is unprecedented in higher education, will nearly double the physical capacity of the campus and support enrollment growth to 10,000 students.

Stem creates innovative technology services that transform the way energy is distributed and consumed. The company’s mission is to build and operate the largest digitally connected energy storage network for our customers.

With more than 30 years of proven experience, SunPower is a global leader in solar innovation and sustainability. Its unique approach emphasizes the seamless integration of advanced SunPower technologies, delivering The Power of One® complete solar solutions and lasting customer value.