Sustainability’s Digital Infrastructure: A case study of the UC San Diego microgrid
The University of California at San Diego (UCSD) has a long history of self-reliance when it comes to energy. Opened in 1960, the university came of age in an era of energy awareness, and its founders sought to position the campus as a home for leading-edge science and technology research.
Today, by embracing clean energy technologies in its operations and by collecting data to build an ambitious long-term sustainability plan, UCSD offers a glimpse into the future. While academics and research are at the core of UCSD’s energy initiatives, the university has also worked to integrate advanced energy technology into its campus. An on-site cogeneration plant, completed in the 1990s, produces more than 87% of electricity consumed. But beginning in 2006, the campus challenged itself to go further and develop an energy-independent microgrid.
Today, the campus produces 92% of its own energy. It’s striving to go further with a combination of new clean energy resources, additional on-site generation and storage, and innovative demand-reduction strategies. The cornerstone of this effort is the OSIsoft PI System, which gathers data from hundreds of sensors, serves as a universal translator that synchronizes and coordinates operations of the campus’ complex energy assets, and supports UCSD’s efforts to create a sustainable environment for learning and innovation.