UCSD to install massive battery system to store electricity

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University of California

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LA JOLLA, Calif. — A battery system with enough capacity to power about 2,500 homes will be installed at UC San Diego next year, the school announced Monday.

Energy from the system, which UCSD officials say will be one of the largest in the United States, will be connected into the school’s own power grid. The university generates 92 percent of the electricity used on campus.

“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, the vice chancellor for resource management and 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.”

Once the new system is installed, the university will be eligible for up to $3.25 million in energy rebates in a program sponsored by the state Public Utilities Commission.

UCSD bought the 2.5 megawatt storage system from BYD Co. of China, which has a subsidiary that is developing the Denza brand electric car with Daimler AG.

The system uses high-performance lithium-ion iron-phosphate batteries that are known for being reliable and environmentally friendly. According to the university, BYD’s rechargeable batteries contain no heavy metals or toxic electrolytes and, during the manufacturing process, all caustic or harmful materials are avoided. The batteries are also considered non-explosive and fire- safe, even in direct flames.

UCSD already has a 30 kilowatt energy storage system, based on ultra- capacitors; it was provided by Maxwell Technologies.

The Public Utilities Commission last year established a target of having the state’s three investor-owned utilities install 1.3 gigawatts of electricity storage by 2024.

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