The University of California will update its own power-generating facilities and procure new renewable energy from third parties to reach its 100 percent renewable energy goal by 2025.
The UC announced Sept. 4 all 10 UC campuses and five medical centers will commit to using solely zero-carbon and renewably generated electricity by 2025.
David Phillips, the UC Office of the President associate vice president for energy and sustainability, said the UC offered this new commitment after students advocated for change to build on the previous goal of reaching carbon neutrality by 2025.
“We heard loud and clear from passionate students about the need to clean up our electricity supply,” Phillips said. “It was a nice overlap of both our operational goal and student interests that led us to update policies.”
Valeree Catangay, a UC Carbon Neutrality Initiative fellow and third-year environmental science student, said her fellowships use art activism to communicate narratives in their communities.
“We’ve been engaging with students on the small scale, but there’s a ripple effect,” Catangay said. “Students who we touch can tell their friends and so forth.”
The UC currently receives 15 percent of its total energy from renewable sources. Of the total, 7 percent of the UC’s energy supply is generated on-site.
Phillips added that UC-owned energy generation facilities will be generating 100 percent renewable energy by the end of this year.
Nurit Katz, the UCLA chief sustainability officer, said UCLA is not able to buy UC energy directly because UCLA’s energy is provided by a municipal utility.
Katz said UCLA will not be able to generate all of the campus’ renewable energy on-site. Instead, UCLA will generate solar power off campus.
UCLA generates 85 percent of its energy in a cogeneration plant on campus. Cogeneration is a process that uses natural gas to generate energy and uses waste heat for water or space heating.
Katz said UCLA will transition to using biogas in the plant to meet the 2025 goal. Biogas is a mixture of gases that can be renewably produced from the breakdown of organic waste.
The remaining energy will be converted to renewable sources through procurement. To procure new energy partners, the UC will lay out criteria for renewable energy projects and accept third-party bids, Phillips said. Campuses will also continue to opt into green tariffs and other utility programs.
Phillips also added the changes have been structured to avoid increasing costs for the UC and for students.
“There’s usually an investment up front, but it has a payback,” Phillips said. “We think you can both clean up electricity supply and do it in a way that cost doesn’t increase.”
Phillips said he feels confident the UC will reach this goal by 2025.
“Yes, I’m absolutely 100 percent confident we’re gonna hit this goal,” Phillips said. “The UC’s own power supply will be all renewables by end of this year and I know there’s good options for all the campuses.”
Katz said the transition to 100 percent renewables will require both infrastructural and cultural changes.
“We need everyone on the campus engaged in saving energy,” Katz said.