STRATEGY 2.0 CLEAN AND RENEWABLE ENERGY SOURCES
These portfolio solutions will help UIC achieve its commitment to be a Carbon Neutral Campus and could save UIC nearly 75,000 MTCO2e annually. These solutions on this page have been updated from what is mentioned in the original report (2018).
2.1.1 Indirect (10-year) PPA
Procure 8,000MW of offsite renewable energy including solar and wind power.
2.1.2 Onsite (10-yr) PPA Solar Rooftop Generation
Generate 1MW power of on-site rooftop solar power.
2.2.1 Onsite Power Plant Electricity Production
Use lowest-carbon sources for energy to power campus buildings.
2.1 PROCURE RENEWABLE ENERGY
Viable options for increasing UIC’s reliance on renewable-sourced power include a long-term offsite power purchase agreement (PPA) and a variety of onsite options for integrating solar photovoltaic (PV) generation onto campus building rooftops.
In lieu of purchasing a traditional mix of electricity from the grid, UIC can purchase non-direct renewable power (Solution 2.1.1). Indirect long-term PPA’s are a financial transaction between the generating facility and the off-taker; no renewable power is physically delivered. Instead of routing renewable power to the off-taker, the generator sells the power directly to the grid and receives the open market price. Students have expressed their support for this type of procurement.
Onsite renewable energy such as solar PV rooftop generation, is a way to physically source a portion of a facility’s energy needs, improve the fuel diversity of the system, and promote energy independence by visibly demonstrating a civic commitment to reduce reliance on fossil fuels (Solution 2.1.2). Additional funding streams for physical deployment and/or procurement include grants and public-private partnerships, of which are currently and will continue to be sought out by the OS and coordinated by the VCAS.
Furthermore, with the update of the Illinois Renewable Energy Portfolio Standards, the options for supporting the development of Illinois-based sources of solar (and other renewable sources of energy) are enhanced, and increasingly competitive, if contracted for over a 15 to 25-year period. However, the University of Illinois typically does not enter into procurement of energy commodities for more than 10 years. It is recommended that options for extending that time line be explored by the VCAS Solar Working Group (see 2.1.2)
Goal: Procure offsite renewable energy
The OS and Utilities are working with Prairieland Energy Inc., to procure an Indirect PPA. Indirect PPA’s have financial, environmental, transactional, and marketing benefits, in better managing costs and risks associated with physical deployment.
Goal: Generate 1MW power of on-site rooftop solar power
An initial techno-economic assessment for onsite solar PV feasibility was conducted for four rooftop locations on campus that were deemed structurally appropriate; 607-608 (Science & Engineering Laboratory Complex), 605 (Student Center East), 934 (College of Medicine Research Building), and the soon to be constructed Engineering Innovation Building (Envisioning Our Future: 2017-2027 Implementation Plan).
After determining recommended system sizes, estimated capital cost to implement the technology, and estimated life-cycle cost savings, the assessment evaluated projects through two different financing scenarios: direct (ownership), and indirect (through an onsite PPA). This analysis provided the cost effectiveness for proposed systems in net present value (NPV), which included the present value of all costs and incentives applicable through each financing option. The onsite PPA yielded the more economically favorable scenario.
The likelihood of being able to physically deploy 2.3 MW of installed capacity (total for 4 buildings assessed) outright, given today’s market trends and structural uncertainties of existing rooftops, is not feasible. However, by downsizing results derived from the techno-economic assessment described above, we can generate results for an onsite PPA of 1 MW installed capacity to be formalized by FY 2019. It should be noted that given the current solar PV market, now is the time to invest, as incentives will begin to incrementally decrease in the coming years. At the end of the 10-year contract agreement UIC would proceed to buy-out the system and shift to direct ownership. Implementation of this system would satisfy approximately 66% of the adjusted 2028 onsite goal of 1.5 MW installed capacity.
The VCAS Solar Working Group is tasked with developing a Pro Forma to validate full-costs associated, and refine the list of buildings with appropriate roof conditions for a 1 MW system. Subsequently major action items include issuing a Request for Information (RFI) from prospective developers (preferably in the Chicagoland region), followed by a formal Request for Proposal (RFP), bids will be reviewed from prospective developers, ultimately selecting a developer for implementation. Lastly, Real Estate Services will need to review and approve the rooftop lease. Additional responsible parties for implementation phases include Campus Auxiliary Services (CAS), and Prairieland Energy Inc. Physical deployment of refined, leased systems should be formalized as soon as major phases are complete.
On-site Power Plant Production vs. Purchased Electricity
Power plants at UIC use an engine or turbine to generate electricity and utilize the excess heat generated from equipment for heating buildings. This can be up to twice as efficient in its energy use as a typical coal or gas-fired powered electricity plant. These plants produce electricity, steam, and high temperature hot water for heating, cooling, and electric loads. While the plants primarily run on natural gas, they also use diesel oil to start up engines or to operate in emergencies. The increase in UIC’s GHG emissions between 2004 and 2009 can be attributed to the economically-driven shift towards purchasing significantly more electricity from the grid, rather than generating on site, as seen in the associate graph.
2.2 UTILIZE THERMAL ALTERNATIVES
UIC primarily purchases natural gas and electricity through mechanisms such as reverse auctions to reduce reliance on spot markets which decreases budgetary uncertainty. When calculating emissions from purchased electricity, UIC uses the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (US EPA) regional Emissions & Generation Resource Integrated Database (eGRID) subregion RFCW data which is comprised of 60% coal, 25.7% nuclear, 3.6% renewable, and 9.3% natural gas. In spite of the recent efficiencies achieved, there was an overall increase in CO2 emissions per kWh of electricity utilized by UIC. This negates much of the emission reductions that should have been realized through progress, but is explained by UIC’s onsite use of cogeneration, or combined heat and power (CHP).
Goal: Use lowest-carbon sources for energy
Historically, UIC’s cogeneration plants have generated electricity when it is cost-effective to do so; which is heavily driven by the cost of natural gas used in the production of electricity. The emissions attributed to on-site generation are significantly lower than those from purchased electricity. A relatively low price for grid-purchased electricity compared to the production costs of onsite UIC-generated electricity—including elevated delivered natural gas cost, deferred maintenance challenges of installed generation equipment, system reliability concerns, and economically-driven decision processes—has resulted in Utilities purchasing more electricity than it produces in its two power plants (Figure 9).
Utilities has become more strategic in predicting when it is cost beneficial to deploy its assets, to generate power at a lower cost when real-time market prices are inflated. Utilities has improved the material condition of generation assets, resolved system reliability issues, and instituted new fuel delivery processes to reduce the cost of delivered natural gas. In coordination with external consultants, Utilities is conducting a heat rate analysis that will allow them to better deploy assets to generate electricity in a more economic manner. A preliminary simplified Portfolio Solution was modeled to assess the GHG emissions reduction impact of increased production.