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UC San Diego and UL Form Partnership to Support Innovations in Sustainable Energy Technology


  • Marc Alberts and Laura Margoni

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  • Marc Alberts and Laura Margoni

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Photo: The UC San Diego microgrid

The UC San Diego microgrid, one of the most advanced in the world, is power by a mix of on-site sources including a biogas-powered fuel cell plant and solar energy panels

UL LLC (Underwriters Laboratories), a global safety science organization, has entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the University of California, San Diego to help support developments in sustainable energy technology.

This strategic effort described in the MOU includes jointly conducting research on sustainable energy, and sharing testing techniques, results and analyses. UC San Diego and UL will use their work to develop and define requirements and protocols for sustainable energy production and use. Their work also will address improving proper procedures for initial and mass deployment of these technologies.

“At UL, we view efforts to support development of safe, renewable energy technology as a critical need for society and a top priority for our company,” said Lisa Salley, vice president and general manager of UL’s Energy & Power Technologies Division. “When seeking a research partner, UC San Diego’s impressive expertise and shared goals stood out for us. UL is honored to work with UC San Diego and we look forward to what we will achieve through this collaboration.”

UL already is deeply involved in testing and certification standards for many types of sustainable energy systems, including wind and solar energy equipment and the large-scale energy storage components that are crucial to their use.

UC San Diego has a renowned record in sustainability research. The university is almost entirely powered by one of most advanced microgrids in the world, saving the school as much as $8 million annually in electricity costs. The grid is powered by a mix of on-site sources – a cogeneration plant that generates heating and cooling for the campus, a biogas-powered fuel cell plant, and solar energy panels. An innovative data monitoring system gathers information from sensors placed throughout the campus’s buildings to coordinate and maximize efficient use of this energy.

The microgrid also supports UC San Diego’s research. This is demonstrated by the upcoming addition of a 5 MWh energy storage system using lithium-ion iron-phosphate batteries. This system joins existing energy storage systems connected to the microgrid that are monitored to yield data.

The work will be tailored to the strengths of each partner. UC San Diego staff will apply its science and engineering expertise through the optimal use of campus talent and resources. UL will develop test procedures and standards intended to help support the safe and effective use of equipment in the market. The MOU affirms the shared belief that the development of new sustainable energy technologies and infrastructure systems must always include an understanding and implementation of effective safety and performance standards to best maximize their benefits.

“Teaming with UL will provide innovative renewable and storage technologies that can be readily deployed on a microgrid,” said Gary Matthews, UC San Diego vice chancellor of Resource Management and Planning. “That will facilitate an earlier, deeper and wider penetration into the commercial and military markets by our industrial stakeholders.”

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