Taking advantage of campus rooftops and parking lots, UCSB has contracted with SunPower, a Silicon Valley-based solar energy provider, to install six new solar arrays. The campus hopes to reap a $14 million savings in electrical costs over two decades — predicted to rise 3 percent per year over the next 10 years — and expects to cut its greenhouse gas emissions by 6 percent.
The arrays are set to be installed over the rooftops of the Thunderdome and Robertson Gym during the coming spring, and also atop a deck to be installed at Lot 38, which is between Storke Field and Harder Stadium. More arrays will go in above three campus parking structures by the end of 2016. SunPower will install, maintain, and operate the solar-power systems — generating 5.3 megawatts in total — and sell the electricity generated to UCSB at a significantly lower price than current rates.
“This means more savings, more power that we offset, and less carbon emissions; all around it’s a smart thing for the campus to do,” said Jordan Sager, campus energy manager for UCSB. “In the middle of the day when these solar systems are generating at their peak, they will be producing about half of the campus’s power, which is impressive considering UCSB is the single largest electricity user in the region.”
The school’s new alternative energy producers will also help move the University of California toward UC President Janet Napolitano’s pledge to make all UC buildings and its vehicle fleet net zero for greenhouse gases by 2025.