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UC San Diego Increasing Energy Capacity of Microgrid

The University of California, San Diego will be installing a battery-based energy storage system on campus as the newest addition to its microgrid. The installation can accommodate up to 2.5 megawatts of energy storage and will integrate with the campus' 2.8-megawatt fuel cell, which was constructed in 2011.

The new storage system will be used to store energy generated from the fuel cell, allowing the campus to keep off-peak power and discharge the energy into the campus power grid during high demand. The project will consist of energy storage units, a power conditioning system, electrical components, system controls and thermal management subsystems.

UC San Diego's microgrid, consisting of the fuel cell, solar power and a co-generation plant, currently produces 92 percent of the electricity used on campus, the bulk of that generated by a natural-gas-fired combined heat and power system that creates electricity and produces steam for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. The institution already runs a 30-kilowatt energy storage system from Maxwell Technologies that uses photovoltaic technology from Soitec. The university also hosts a "second-life" battery demonstration site to research how discarded electric vehicle batteries can be applied to alternative uses, such as stationary energy storage.

"UC San Diego is committed to practices that promote sustainability and innovation, not just on our campus, but in our community and our world," said Gary Matthews, vice chancellor for Resource Management & Planning. "Energy storage has the potential to transform the global energy landscape. It can help make renewable energy sources more reliable and is critical to a resilient, efficient, clean and cost-effective grid. We are proud to help advance this technology."

The new energy storage system comes from BYD, a major supplier of rechargeable batteries. According to the company, its batteries contain no heavy metals or toxic electrolytes and are considered non-explosive and fire-safe.

Once the new storage battery system is in place, the university will be eligible for up to $3.25 million in financial incentives from the state through a "Self-Generation Incentive Program," which is overseen by the California Public Utilities Commission.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a former senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal, Campus Technology and Spaces4Learning.

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