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Thursday, June 24, 2021

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A $15-million solar field under construction at SDSU’s Imperial Valley Campus is on target to be the largest university-based solar installation in California. A $15-million solar field under construction at SDSU’s Imperial Valley Campus is on target to be the largest university-based solar installation in California.
 


Imperial Valley Campus Emerging as Green Energy Leader

In a sun-drenched county, SDSU promotes sustainability research and technology.
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A $15-million solar field under construction at SDSU’s Imperial Valley Campus is on target to be the largest university-based solar installation in California and one of the largest in the United States.

The project is one of dozens underway throughout Imperial County. Nearly 20,000 acres of mostly agricultural land is being developed with solar fields. Many are already operating.

The SDSU-IV facility will produce 6 megawatts of energy, enough to meet the daily needs of 6,000 homes. Its designation as a “community solar” field means the energy may be sold directly to local businesses at a slight premium, allowing them to “go green” without making a major up-front capital investment in solar technology.

“This is a moment in time for Imperial County,” said David Pearson, dean of SDSU-Imperial Valley. “Renewable technologies are being deployed at a record pace as Imperial County realizes its potential to supply energy to San Diego and, eventually, other destinations.”

Green energy leader

SDSU has invested in four collaborative areas of research excellence that address complex global problems requiring new approaches and cutting-edge technology.

One of the four, the Center for Climate and Sustainability Studies, will predict the impacts of climate change and serve as a hub for education and policy development to help guide San Diego’s sustainability decisions.

Similarly, SDSU-IV’s solar field is one piece of a larger effort by the Imperial Valley campus to become one of Southern California’s green energy leaders.

The campus also plans to establish a Center for Energy Sustainability (CES) as a hub for renewable energy research, education and job creation.

Research opportunities at the CES will involve faculty, students, industry experts and researchers from other universities in the U.S. and Mexico. Currently, SDSU-IV is discussing collaborative research on green technology with Universidad Autonoma de Baja California.

The center is expected to generate new courses and academic programs at SDSU-IV and to attract adjunct faculty and guest speakers from the solar energy industry.

World class center

“The Imperial Valley Campus’s plan is an ambitious one,” said Pearson. “It  envisions a world class center of excellence with a corresponding leadership role for San Diego State; one that advances the economic development of Imperial County, addresses the green energy goals of the state and contributes to America’s energy independence.”

A $1.7 million Jobs and Innovation Accelerator Challenge federal cluster grant jumpstarted SDSU-IV’s green technology efforts in 2011. The funding has supported a software-based power plant simulator and associated control room and the development of various e-learning modules, and has brought several proof-of-concept projects to the campus.