August's Word of the Month: Solar Farm

solar farm

Joules shares how the solar eclipse highlighted the importance of solar energy at UC Davis

Everyone was excited about the solar eclipse on August 21st, and so was Joules! Even though UC Davis wasn't directly in the path of totality, the campus was energized by the phenomenal sight.

The eclipse also highlighted how important solar energy is to our campus, which is why "Solar Farm" is Joules' Word of the Month in August.

word of the month

 

Never Heard of the Solar Farm?

The Solar Farm was installed in 2016 as an effort to bring the campus closer to Carbon Neutrality. The farm itself spans an impressive 62 acres and produces 16.3 megawatts of direct current electricity. It produces about 14% of the electricity used by the whole campus in a year!

This video gives an overview of the Solar Farm:

 

 

The Solar Farm and the Eclipse

At our office, we carefully tracked the effects of the eclipse on the campus' electricity production.

As you can see below, the solar production (in yellow) covers a significant portion of our total electricity demand each day.

total graph

The gray area of the chart represents the portion of electricity that still comes from the California grid (which includes the campus allotment of hydropower from dams in Northern California and Nevada).

During the eclipse, the moon passed between the sun and earth and partially blocked its light to the campus for almost 3 hours. We tracked the dip in the amount of energy produced by the farm: 

with notes


The energy produced by the solar farm on the morning of the eclipse was 11,827 killowatt-hours less than normal. On a normal day between 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.  the farm produces 32,573 killowatt-hours, but on the day of the eclipse its output totaled 20,745 killowatt-hours. This dip amounts to about a 36% decrease in energy production! 

Since the campus had to keep running during the eclipse, we had to pull more energy from the grid to keep up with campus electricity demand. That's why when you look at our grid electricity demand, you see a sharp increase coinciding with the dip of the eclipse. 

 

solar demand

The solar eclipse highlighted our ability on typical sunny days to produce our own renewable solar power right in our own backyard! Barring future eclipses, the Solar Farm will continue to not only produce clean energy, but to take a load off California's electric grid as well. 

If you'd like more information about the Solar Farm, including how to schedule a tour, please contact David Trombly at dmtrombly@ucdavis.edu. To see an even bigger overview of the campus energy supply and demand, visit Our Energy Story. As always, stay tuned for the next Word of the Month with Joules the Cow! 

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