At the 15th Annual California Higher Education Sustainability Conference (CHESC) underway this week at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF), the university and SunPower Corp. (Nasdaq:SPWR) announced that construction is underway on a four-megawatt SunPower® solar power system at three university parking areas. CSUF will purchase the emission-free solar power generated by the system under a power purchase agreement that offers competitive rates, enabling the university to offset over one-third of their peak electrical load, potentially saving millions in electricity costs over almost 20 years, according to CSUF.
“With the cost-competitive solar power generated by our SunPower systems, the university will control electricity costs and reduce our carbon footprint,” said Willem van der Pol, interim associate vice president for facilities management at CSUF. “SunPower’s experience partnering with universities is as important to us as the proven high performance of its technology. CSUF has supported sustainability in our operations for more than two decades, and we are proud to support the long-term health of our students, staff and community by increasing our reliance on solar power.”
At the campus, SunPower is constructing solar carports on two parking structures and a parking lot. At all three sites, SunPower will install high efficiency SunPower direct current solar panels, the most efficient on the market today, and the world’s first to achieve a Cradle to Cradle Certified™ Silver designation for the sustainable practices and materials used in their manufacturing. In addition to generating power, the carports will provide needed shade. All of the systems are expected to be operational by the end of this year.
“Cal State Fullerton can rely on these SunPower systems to deliver exceptional long term value,” said Howard Wenger, SunPower president, business units. “SunPower has extensive experience working with universities and colleges to deliver innovative solar solutions. It is extremely rewarding to enable our higher education institutions to achieve significant operational savings while inspiring students with the great potential of solar power.”
CSUF owns the renewable energy credits associated with the systems.
The solar power generated by the system will be equivalent to the energy used by 501 average American homes in one year, according to the estimates provided by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. SunPower estimates that one year of solar energy produced by the CSUF system could power more than 2,000 electric vehicles for 30 years.
This project is the latest in a 20-year-plus history of CSUF instituting efficient and sustainable practices. The campus installed its first 1-megawatt solar power system in 2012. It regularly upgrades its lighting efficiency, installed low-flow fixtures and irrigation meters, has constructed LEED-certified buildings, operates an energy-smart tri-generation plant and, in response toCalifornia’s drought, installed bio-swales to retain rainwater and replaced turf with drought-tolerant plants throughout the campus.