The Chronicle of Higher Education put yesterday’s University of California, San Diego green energy announcement into context.

The school aims to get 7.4 megawatts of its electricity from renewable sources; it has 1 megawatt of solar under contract.

While school officials yesterday claimed their plan made the university one of the greenest in the West, the Chronicle says:

However, there are larger efforts either planned or underway. The University of New Hampshire recently announced a project to draw power from landfill methane to produce 7.9 megawatts, or 85 percent of the university’s power; the university plans to ramp up to 11 or 12 megawatts. With the help of a private wind-power company, Colorado State University is planning a wind farm that will produce 65 to 200 megawatts, well enough to supply 100 percent of the university’s peak demand at 16 megawatts.

As admirable as UCSD’s efforts are, they also highlight the challenges facing the university — and large research universities in general — in becoming climate neutral. The alternative-energy projects will generate less than a sixth of the university’s annual electrical needs — far short of the climate neutrality the university pledged when signing the American College and University Presidents Climate Commitment.

ROB DAVIS

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