The use of clean renewable energy is one of the three primary components of Stanford's Energy and Climate Action plan first developed in 2008, which gave way to the Stanford Energy System Innovations (SESI) program. Because the system relies on electricity to power the heating and cooling systems, Stanford is now able to transition away from fossil fuels to a more efficient system that relies on renewable energy.
During SESI implementation, Stanford built out its solar portfolio, both on campus and at an offsite facility in southern California. In 2022, a second offsite facility came online to bring Stanford's renewable portfolio to 100%, completing its transition to clean electricity. This transition will bring Stanford University's greenhouse gas reductions to 80% below peak levels, four years in advance of the target set forth in the university's long-range planning process.
Initially, the university audited and analyzed more than 60 campus locations for suitability for rooftop photovoltaics (PV). Sites were selected based on a number of factors, including impact to historic buildings, orientation, roof size and slope, and construction impact. Ultimately, PV panels were installed on 16 sites across campus, to provide 4.9 megawatts (MW) of solar energy.
Stanford worked with SunPower to build its first Solar Generating Station in Southern California. The 67 MW (DC) array came online in 2016 and currently supplies 50% of Stanford’s electricity. The new plant features state-of-the-art PV technology with single axis tracking, and generates enough electricity to power approximately 20,000 homes.
A new 88 MW (DC) station, located in Central California and known as Stanford Solar Generating Station #2, will come online in 2022 through a purchased power agreement with Recurrent Energy. Read the Stanford Report article for more information.