Stanford University to become 100% solar powered

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Much like the mighty redwood tree featured in the school’s logo, Stanford University, through a deal with developer Recurrent Energy, will now get all of its energy needs from the sun.

The deal is a 25-year power purchase agreement between Canadian Solar subsidiary Recurrent and the university for the 88 MW Stanford Solar Generating Station #2. This project, in conjunction with with Stanford’s existing 67 MW solar power purchase agreement (PPA) and its 5 MW rooftop installation, will be the last piece in completing Stanford’s solar power puzzle when it enters operation in 2021.

“This power purchase agreement with Stanford University demonstrates Recurrent Energy’s ability to work with a diversified customer base in California and across the U.S.,” said Dr. Shawn Qu, chairman and CEO of Canadian Solar, in a release announcing the deal.

“We’ve long partnered with different types of load-serving entities, such as investor-owned and publicly-owned utilities, and we’re a known leader for our partnerships with CCAs. Now, we are delighted to also demonstrate our ability to meet the needs of direct access customers.”

Stanford now joins the University of Richmond and Massachusetts’ Hampshire College as the only schools in the nation capable of entirely offsetting their electricity usage with solar. The University of Hawai’i and University of California systems have both got in the mix as well, making 100% renewable energy a near-future goal. Additionally, Duke Energy supplies the University of North Carolina system with 250MW of renewably-generated electricity each year.

The university anticipates the project will reduce overall greenhouse gas emissions by 14%, bringing the school’s total emissions reduction to 80% below peak levels. Stanford’s previously existing solar PPA for Stanford Solar Generating Station #1 went online in 2016 as part of the university’s 2008 plan to make major cuts to its overall greenhouse gas emissions.

“As a university, we are pursuing an ambitious plan to further reduce our carbon footprint, and our second solar plant is a critical new component of that plan,” said Stanford President Marc Tessier-Lavigne in a Stanford news release touting Stanford Solar Generating Station #2.

“Sustainability is a major focus for Stanford and a priority for our local community. Completing our transition to clean power builds on the groundbreaking research of Stanford faculty and students, and it marks a major advance in our efforts to provide a sustainable learning environment for our campus.”

Stanford Solar Generating Station #2 is a part of Recurrent Energy’s Slate project portfolio, which includes another 150 MW-AC portion that hold PPAs with Silicon Valley Clean Energy and Monterey Bay Community Power.

Note: The original version of this article stated that the University of North Carolina was receiving solar from Duke Energy’s Green Source Advantage Program, which was not accurate.