Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative to be Launched at Event May 21

An opening celebration for UCR’s Sustainable Integrated Grid Initiative at the College of Engineering Center for Environmental Research and Technology will be held Wednesday, May 21, from 10 a.m. until noon at the center’s facilities at 1084 Columbia Ave., in Riverside.

Persons interested in attending the event should RSVP online at bit.ly/gridrsvp, or by contacting Senior Director of Development Steve Ramirez at (951) 827-4897, or steve.ramirez@ucr.edu.

The initiative couples solar energy generation, storage, smart grid protocols, and electric transportation, allowing researchers and students at CE-CERT to develop improved energy systems for the future.

This innovative project is funded in part by a $2-million grant from the South Coast Air Quality Management District titled, “The New Grid: Integrating Photovoltaics, Energy Storage, and a Local Utility for Electric Transportation.”

Solar carportsIndustry, government and university partners are collaborating to integrate these primary project components:

  • Four megawatts of solar photovoltaic panels. Three-and-a-half megawatts will be at UC Riverside’s main campus. The remaining half megawatt covers a portion of the parking lot at Bourns, Inc., adjacent CE-CERT (photo, right).
  • BatteriesTwo megawatt-hours (Mwh) of battery energy storage. The batteries will store energy for distribution during periods when there is insufficient solar power generation. One Mwh of batteries are at CE-CERT and the additional one Mwh of batteries are located in Winston Chung Hall on UC Riverside’s main campus (photo, right).
  • EVs chargingTwenty-seven electric vehicle charging stations. Eight chargers, with level two capabilities, which are suitable for cars, are in parking lots on UC Riverside’s main campus. Four level two chargers and one level three charger, which is suitable for larger vehicles, are located at the Center for Environmental Research and Technology (photo, right). In addition, 14 level two chargers are located throughout the city of Riverside.
  • A UCR-owned and RTA-operated trolley bus that has been converted from diesel combustion to battery electric operation.
  • Energy monitoring, management and control tools developed by UC Riverside engineering students to ensure energy grid stability, reliability and efficiency.

The project is unique for the breadth of the partnerships created to enable it. Led by CE-CERT, it includes the coordinated support of the following:

  • Balqon Corp.
  • Bourns, Inc.
  • City of Riverside
  • Riverside Public Utilities
  • Riverside Transit Agency
  • SolarMax Technology, Inc.
  • South Coast Air Quality Management District
  • Southern California Research Initiative for Solar Energy
  • UCR Capital and Physical Planning, Physical Plant, and Transportation and Parking Services
  • Winston Battery Limited
  • Winston Chung Global Energy Center

Partner logos

On average California derives two-thirds of its electricity from fossil fuels such as coal and natural gas, and the vast majority of our vehicles are powered from imported oil. Introducing renewable electricity generation and electric vehicle technologies such as plug-in hybrids are two key priorities in California’s strategy to move toward domestic energy diversity and to meet our air quality and greenhouse gas goals. However, utility providers are concerned that bringing a significant number of fast-charging electric vehicles onto the existing grid system will impact the local electricity demand and reliability. A key component of the project is to demonstrate that electric vehicles can be seamlessly introduced into the existing grid system through “smart integration” of renewable energy, storage and advanced dispatch controls.

The system will provide the UC Riverside with renewable energy while serving as a platform to learn about how new technologies can be applied in the real-world. Specific research goals are to:

  • Integrate utility scale renewable energy, energy storage, and EV charging
  • Demonstrate the functionality of Smart Grid protocols
  • Provide EV charging demand without increased grid loads
  • Provide real world Smart Grid test-bed platform for emerging technologies
  • Evaluate efficiency of energy storage in various settings
  • Evaluate power quality issues
  • Demonstrate battery electric bus transit operating in the Riverside community

Photovoltaic energy generation on the UC Riverside campus will be utilized to offset electrical energy utilized throughout the region for plug-in electric vehicle charging events. The PV generation will be linked with stationary battery storage to manage energy needs during periods of insufficient PV generation. Energy management will be coordinated with Riverside Public Utilities to optimally reduce peak loads on the electrical distribution network and local power feeders.

Energy use of the trolley bus will be continuously monitored. Grid impacts resulting from fast DC charging of the trolley will be offset with PV generation and battery storage.

The stationary battery storage will be integrated with the campus facilities and distribution feeders to offset on-site power demand. Batteries will store excess energy during evenings and deliver power during peak events.

The photovoltaic power generation being implemented at the CE-CERT research campus will be integrated with energy storage and smart grid monitoring and control. Solar generation will be optimized to reduce peak demand on the local distribution feeder. Facility power usage, monitoring, and control will implement energy optimization strategies for daily power demand.

Energy use will be continuously monitored within the research facilities in conjunction with the distribution feeder and the overall utility grid. Smart Grid management decisions will be implemented and utilized to maximize grid stability, reliability, and efficiency. Strategies, protocols, and methods will be explored and documented relative to emissions reductions, cost, and effectiveness while supporting EV charging events.

The initiative will also allow for training and research in a variety of smart grid technologies for UC Riverside students and researchers and employees from Riverside Public Utilities.

The project is one step by UC Riverside to meet the University of California’s President’s Initiative to make the University of California carbon neutral by 2025:

University of California President’s Initiative:
The First Research University to Achieve Carbon Neutrality

The University of California is a national leader in sustainability and effective actions to reduce greenhouse gases to mitigate climate change. The University galvanized its position for environmental stewardship in 2007 when all ten Chancellors became signatories to the American College & Universities Presidents’ Climate Commitment. To reach our next goal, which is to bring the University to carbon‐neutrality in its operations by 2025, we will need to take bold efforts to change the fundamental profile of our energy sources.

View photos of the installation of the solar photovoltaics adjacent CE-CERT in the parking lot at Bourns, Inc.

Media Contact


Tel: (951) 827-2988
E-mail: angela.meluski@ucr.edu

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