LOS ANGELES, July 15 (Xinhua) -- The University of California in San Diego (UCSD) has begun construction on a sustainable energy program that is among the largest in the United States by a university, the university said in a press release on Tuesday.
The far-reaching program, which includes solar, biogas fuel cells and wind energy, began with the first installation of solar photovoltaic panels atop a campus utility plant.
Soon, buildings and parking garages across the 1,200-acre campus next to the Pacific Ocean will feature solar panels, according to the release.
It said the University's green energy capacity will eventually produce 29 million kilowatt hours a year, enough to provide electricity for more than 4,500 homes a year, and to remove an equivalent of 10,500 tons of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year. That is the equivalent of removing 1,500 cars a year from the roads.
"This photovoltaic installation marks an historic event for a campus that has become a living laboratory for climate change solutions," said Steve Relyea, Vice Chancellor of Business Affairs.
As Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UCSD celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Keeling Curve, the first measurement of greenhouse gas build-up which was conducted by Scripps scientist Charles David Keeling, the university will soon be generating 7.4 megawatts of green energy, providing 10-15 percent of its annual electrical usage, the release said.
Producing green energy reduces the university's use of greenhouse gas-generating fossil fuels that are warming the planet and polluting the air, it said.
Researchers and students at UCSD are working on a wide range of environmental sustainability projects, including developing biofuels from algae and wood debris.
In addition to the solar photovoltaic project, UCSD will produce another 2.4 megawatts of energy from fuel cells powered by renewable methane, said the release.
UCSD also has a unique program to swap fossil fuel-generated energy for wind power. The university will throttle back its natural gas-powered cogeneration plant at night and replace the power with electricity purchased from California wind farms. This project, the first of its kind in California, will generate up to 3 megawatts of green energy.