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Climate and Sustainability Town Halls

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Energy Town Hall

November 7, 2023

UC San Diego is embarking on the next phase of energy systems planning and evaluating decarbonization and electrification of the campus. These efforts build upon the University of California’s newly adopted climate policy, which sets a framework and timetable for campuses to decarbonize by 90% no later than 2045 through prioritization of direct emission reductions and limiting the use of carbon offsets.

Frequently Asked Questions

UC Climate Policy and Timeline

What are the newly adopted UC climate goals and what is the timeline for implementing them?

In recognition of the need for an urgent, coordinated response to the climate crisis, the University of California updated its Sustainable Practices Policy in July 2023 with stronger climate action goals that prioritize direct emission reductions, limit the use of carbon offsets, and align UC’s climate goals with State goals.

The new policy goals put in place a framework and timetable for all UC campuses and health centers to reduce total emissions by at least 90% no later than 2045. The timetable includes:

  • Set scope 1 emission reduction targets for 2030, 2035 and 2040 based on current decarbonization studies
  • Purchase 100% clean electricity for scope 2 emissions beginning in 2025
  • Set scope 3 emission reduction targets in alignment with State of California's goals

Learn more about UC climate action goals.

Hydrogen Blending

What is the Hydrogen Blend project at UC San Diego?

The California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) has directed SDG&E, SoCalGas, PG&E and Southwest Gas to apply to perform pilots blending hydrogen gas into isolated portions of the natural gas system. The purpose of this effort is to help inform safe standards that will enable injection of renewable hydrogen into gas pipelines to reduce the carbon intensity of the gas used in the state.

The SDG&E project at UC San Diego plans to test 5-20% hydrogen blends by volume on an isolated polyethylene medium pressure distribution-level test loop. The SDG&E project atUC San Diego and the SoCalGas project at UC Irvine are modeled after a successful initiative in the UK called HyDeploy in which the University of Keele hosted blending pilots.

The project is being submitted for approval by the CPUC in December 2023. Once approved, the project can begin. SDG&E estimates that it will operate the pilot project and collect data for an 18-month period. At the end of the project, SDG&E will remove the project from campus. SDG&E looks forward to collaborating with the Center for Energy Research and interested faculty and students maximize learning and project engagement. To get involved or for further inquiries, please contact

What are the limits as to how much hydrogen can be blended into the campus central utility plant? For what applications is blended hydrogen best suited?

The SDG&E blending project atUC San Diego will not impact the campus utility plant in any way. However, the amount of hydrogen that could be blended into the campus utility plant would be determined by the plant design and material specifications.

In theory, blended hydrogen can be used for many of the same uses as natural gas, namely, combustion for things like cooking, heating water or generating electricity. For example, Hawaii Gas uses 10–12% hydrogen blended into its natural gas and has since the 1970s. One of the goals of the blending pilots is to better understand how blended gas could be useful for Californians.

Energy and Decarbonization

Where are the most energy-intensive operations and buildings at UC San Diego located?

The most energy intensive areas on campus are the data computing, research, clinical and medical buildings and related processes to support them.

What are the plans to maximize onsite renewable energy (e.g., solar panels and battery storage) on campus?

The decarbonization study to be completed in July 2024 will study, analyze and recommend how to maximize renewable energy and storage on campus.

What is the DERConnect project and how is it being utilized for campus decarbonization efforts?

DERConnect is building a National Science Foundation infrastructure facility to test power grid management technologies at scale. DERConnect is under construction and estimated to open in 2025. It is currently not being utilized for campus decarbonization, but lessons learned from the various tests in 2025+ will be provided to UC San Diego Resource Management and Planning for consideration for implementation. Visit the website.

Why is a microgrid feasible at UC San Diego? Are there limitations to how much energy the campus can produce on its own in order to keep up with demand?

A microgrid is feasible anywhere, even your home. If properly constructed and maintained, they can greatly impact energy cost, reliability and the overall carbon footprint. There is no real limitation on how much can be produced as long as the energy is used "inside the fence."

What is the biggest challenge when it comes to converting systems to electrical?

The current system is highly reliable, highly energy efficient, highly cost efficient and can provide high temperature heat to the research and development end users who need it. Moving to an all-electric system would have cost, temperature and reliability challenges.


What are campus plans to install additional EV charging stations?

As of November 2023, UC San Diego is San Diego’s largest public charging hub with 331 Level 2 Chargers and 13 Direct Current (DC) Fast Chargers. EV charging infrastructure is expanding rapidly with more than 900 additional Level 2 and 29 DC Fast Chargers anticipated by the end of 2025. Explore upcoming EV projects.

Funding and Costs

How is the campus funding the decarbonization study?

The University of California received State funds that have been allocated to campuses and health systems to study decarbonization within those respective location's energy systems.

How to Stay Involved and Informed

How can the campus community stay informed about the ongoing decarbonization project?

UC San Diego is currently developing a communications strategy that will meet the needs of diverse audiences, allow for consistent messaging and transparency and addresses the top-line messages in the framework. Additional communications and updates will follow.

What internships and research opportunities are available to students interested in climate action and energy systems?

The Office of Utilities & Sustainability hires Climate Action Fellows each academic year to support decarbonization, climate resiliency and student engagement. Positions are posted during the summer on the Financial Aid & Scholarship website. Several academic departments provide additional climate action internships and research opportunities. Consult your academic department to learn more.

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