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Stanford University going solar

Xinhua, October 17, 2016 Adjust font size:

Stanford University on the U.S. west coast is moving ahead with its goal that 50 percent of its electricity will be powered by a new solar plant now in the final stage of construction.

With one of the largest campuses in the United States, the private research university in northern California announced the Stanford Solar Generating Station project last year. The plant, in Kern County of southern California, is scheduled to be functional by the end of November.

After a testing period, according to a news release from Stanford, the plant located on a site of 242 acres, or nearly 1 square kilometer, in the high desert region about 300 miles, or 483 kilometers, southeast of Stanford is expected to be providing power to the 125-year-old school on a regular basis by the end of 2016.

Built for Stanford by the northern Californian solar company SunPower Corp., the plant's construction began in January 2016. The solar panels now have been installed, and work is proceeding on wiring and completing the system. When finished, the plant will draw on more than 150,000 solar panels and produce a peak 67 megawatts of power.

While several Stanford building complexes already feature solar panels, under the Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI), which includes a heat recovery system completed last year for the heating and cooling of campus buildings, 16 additional campus buildings are being outfitted with solar panels and the work is expected to be complete later this fall, so that they provide an additional five megawatts of power for the school.

"We have been engaged in a major effort to make Stanford one of the most energy-efficient universities in the world, and this expansion of our solar resources will make a dramatic difference," Joseph Stagner, executive director of sustainability and energy management at Stanford, was quoted as saying in the release. "Clean, renewable energy will become the dominant part of Stanford's energy mix, and its proportion in that mix will continue to grow over time."

Together, the heat recovery system and the solar energy resources are expected to reduce Stanford's greenhouse gas emissions by 68 percent, equivalent to removing 32,000 cars from the road.

The solar plant and the campus rooftop panels will produce 53 percent of Stanford's electricity. The university will purchase the remaining 47 percent from the California electricity grid, of which 25 percent currently comes from renewable power sources including solar, wind and geothermal, and 50 percent will be renewable by 2030 under state law.

In total, once its solar projects are complete by year's end, Stanford said it would be getting 65 percent of its power from renewable sources. Endit