One of the most prestigious universities in the world, Stanford, is going 100 percent renewable electricity. It is the first major university in the US to make the commitment.
The Silicon Valley-based higher institution plans to achieve the milestone by the summer of 2022. This goal is remarkable as its solar farm had earlier burned down during a wildfire. The goal was to be met in 2021. However, the fire incident and supply chain restrictions caused by the pandemic disrupted plans.
Stanford plans to get all its electricity from solar sources, with a possible battery energy storage solution to cover nighttime power use.
The university had its first taste of solar electricity in 2015 when it installed 5 MW solar panels on its roof. It later set up a solar power plant near Rosamond, California, which produces 67 MW of power. It covered 67 percent of the university’s energy needs in the daytime.
Stanford contracted Recurrent Energy to build another solar plant in 2018 in Kings County. This second facility will supply the rest of the electricity used by the school. Recurrent Energy has the contract till 2053.
As part of the agreement, Recurrent Energy will set up a 50 MW battery that will store the power the university needs during the night.
The biggest reason the university is going solar is because of the cost, which is the cheapest out of all the options considered, which included wind and geothermal sources. About one-third of the cost of the solar project was covered through a tax credit offered by California.
Stanford already ranks in the top 10 colleges that use the most renewable energy in the country. It also hopes to reduce its greenhouse gas footprint by 80 percent by 2024. The last 20 percent is the hardest to eliminate as it includes backup generators that run on fuel and other maintenance aspects. Even so, the university wants to lead by example by removing the 20 percent within the next decade.
Outside the US, the University of Queensland in Australia has already gone 100 percent renewable energy.