December 2, 2020

The University of California has received $39 million to roll out a renewable energy plan

The University of California has received $39 million to develop a mechanism that will enable universities, utilities, and industries to infuse renewable energy into the electric power grid. The University stated that these funds received from the National Science Foundation would facilitate how they can infuse renewable energy resources like solar panels, wind turbines, electric vehicle batteries, and building connections to the electric grid.

This study aims to ensure that research teams and industry leaders can pilot test the program before 2025 so that they can start implementing it on a commercial scale. This program’s primary goal is to eliminate fossil fuels from the power grid, secure it from cybercrimes, and make it reliable for various customers globally. The head of this research and an executive in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, Jan Kleissl, stated that they intend to develop a replacement power grid on this campus to act as a pilot plant. This project will help them adjust the various parameters and test them.

The project will display the need for universities and utilities to have test grounds for their projects on a small scale before implementing it on a large scale. Additionally, they will be able to integrate the required technology into the projects and test its feasibility in real life. This move will help them make the required adjustments to avoid losses. Electricity utilities are anxious about the concept that renewable energy may not be as reliable as conventional energy sources like natural gas, making them skeptical of the transition to clean energy. For instance, solar panels rely on the presence of solar radiation in high intensities, while wind turbines are efficient when there is wind. The variables determining the energy output may be unavailable due to natural dynamics, which is the cause of worry for the utilities. Nevertheless, electric vehicles prove to be advantageous in the fact that their batteries can store renewable energy while they are not in use.

The increasing mix of renewable energy resources is not enough to support integrating the energy into the national grid. Electricity utilities consider the cost of integration, its stability as a source of energy and safety measures. Environmentalists have come out in arms to enlighten those entering the renewable energy sector for profits to stop destroying the ecosystem in their quest to develop renewable energy infrastructure in critical areas. The project will help the industries and utilities to find long-term solutions to the problems that are likely to face the renewable energy industry and implement them at the introduction stage. Gary Matthews of Resource Management and Planning at UC San Diego stated that they had developed a microgrid for renewable energy to power medical and research centers to test its reliability to supply energy continuously.

Finally, the research will inform how the electric utilities will be controlling the flow of the power and how they can regulate it to the electric vehicle charging infrastructure. The researchers intend to put the program to the test in the next two years.