The UCI campus will become a living renewable energy laboratory under a statewide program. Solar panels on the Natural Sciences II rooftop help UCI increase the amount of renewable power it produces on site. Daniel A. Anderson / University Communications

The UC Irvine campus will become a living renewable energy laboratory under a statewide program designed to make electricity generation and transportation safer, cleaner and more affordable for Californians.

The Advanced Power & Energy Program at The Henry Samueli School of Engineering has been awarded $2 million over three years to create a roadmap for a cost-effective and reliable energy infrastructure that maximizes use of renewable resources such as solar photovoltaics, wind and biomass fuels while improving transportation, waste management and energy efficiency in buildings. Lessons learned at UCI will help communities establish their own flexible, secure and climate-neutral energy infrastructures.

The California Energy Commission awarded UCI nearly $1 million for the project. The balance includes in-kind support from partners such as Toyota Motor Sales, U.S.A., Inc. and CTG Energetics.

The project will build on UCI’s existing research and commitment to sustainable energy practices. Scientists will identify issues that policymakers and industry leaders must address to encourage changes in the way Californians generate and use electricity.

“The living laboratory will include the existing 1 megawatt solar installation, building-efficiency practices and energy infrastructure,” says APEP director Scott Samuelsen, mechanical, aerospace & environmental engineering professor. “Our research also will involve the city of Irvine and the Orange County Great Park.”

Managed by Samuelsen, the endeavor will involve APEP faculty, staff and students; the National Fuel Cell Research Center; the California Institute for Telecommunications & Information Technology; and the Institute of Transportation Studies.

The project leverages UCI’s energy-efficient design and operations overseen by Wendell Brase, vice chancellor for administrative & business services.

Says Brase: “The stature of UCI serving as a living laboratory for advanced energy research is a testament to the years of collaboration between the engineering research and business operations of the university.”