U.S. Schools Use Solar to Power Education
U.S. schools are starting to take advantage of the cost-saving and environmentally friendly applications of solar energy. Southern California’s San Dieguito Union High School District and Irving Independent School District in Texas are both pioneering a new era in educational institution development.
San Dieguito Union High School District and Chevron Energy Solutions
The school district has announced the completion of a 2 MW solar project developed by Chevron Energy Solutions. The project is currently providing two schools—Canyon Crest Academy and La Costa Canyon High School—with 70 percent of their electricity needs. The solar initiative is reducing the school district’s carbon emissions by approximately 2,200 metric tons and will save the district $10 million over its operating life. The project cost was subsidized with $4.7 million from the California Solar Initiative.
"Our mission is to provide a world class education for all students through quality programs that engage students and inspire achievement," said Ken Noah, superintendent of San Dieguito Union High School District. "The savings from this solar project will help us meet our goals."
Irving Independent School District and GridPoint Inc.
GridPoint Solar Inc. was selected by Irving Independent School District to install a 582 kW solar system on Lady Bird Johnson Middle School. The school is to be the largest net zero-energy school in the United States, producing as much energy as it consumes.
"The zero-energy school will reinforce teaching and learning as it becomes an extended classroom. With the use of efficient materials and cutting-edge renewable energy technology, the building transforms into a three-dimensional learning space," states Scott Layne, assistant superintendent for support services.
"Every aspect of Lady Bird Johnson Middle School is an opportunity for its students to learn firsthand the value of renewable energy and energy conservation," said Jeff Ross, senior vice president of GridPoint.
Sources: Chevron Energy Solutions and GridPoint Inc.
USS pension fund buys 50% stake in Bruc Energy
The Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) private pension fund has taken a 50% stake in Bruc Energy, a Spain and Portugal renewables-focussed investment vehicle created by OPTrust and Spanish businessman, Juan Béjar.
In the transaction arranged by USS Investment Management, the wholly-owned subsidiary and principal investment manager and advisor to the Scheme, USS has invested €225M (c.£200m) in return for the stake in a major pipeline of 4,000MW of PV farms. Bruc Energy has an ambitious growth plan that goes beyond this to invest in other green energies, such as wind power.
USS, which announced two weeks ago its aim to be net zero by 2050, already has a strong relationship with both OPTrust and Juan Bejar through Globalvia, a specialist infrastructure platform focussed on managing rail and highways assets around the world.
Spain’s sun-drenched climate and national target to reach 100% renewable-based generation by 2050 make it an attractive place to invest in solar energy. In addition, the decades long lifespan of solar PV panels make them well-suited to USS in helping pay members’ pensions long into the future.
USS Investment Management CEO, Simon Pilcher, said: “We are delighted to be committing further finance to renewables and particularly to a major Spanish solar platform like this. We have already invested or committed around £1 billion to renewable energy and demand for this will only increase as more and more countries transition to lower carbon. We know that our members care very much about climate change and ESG and we are convinced that USS playing its part in supporting the transition to a low carbon economy makes good financial sense, too. This announcement closely follows on from our stated ambition to become Net Zero by 2050 so this transaction and others like it will be a key plank of our strategy going forward.”
Gavin Merchant, Co-Head of Direct Equity, said: “We have worked alongside OPTrust and Juan Béjar for many years and are delighted to be making this investment. The long-term nature of solar and the steady returns make renewables attractive to a pension scheme needing to pay pensions for years to come.”
OPTrust’s Morgan McCormick, Managing Director, Private Markets Group UK said: “We are excited to have USS join Bruc Energy building on our strong existing relationship. Their investment will help Bruc become one of the leading renewable energy platforms in Spain. At OPTrust, we believe that investing in renewable energy helps transitions the world to a more sustainable economy. In doing so, we can continue to deliver on our mission of paying pensions today and preserving pensions for tomorrow.”
Béjar said the partnership is a key step to establishing Bruc as one of the more dynamic players in the renewables industry in Spain, because it ensures access to the funds to develop our current portfolio. "All three shareholders of Bruc Energy share a long-term vision, but also the ambition and the social responsibility to counter the effects of climate change in the short-term," he said.
Following the transaction, which remains subject to conditions, including regulatory approval, Bruc Energy will be owned 50% by USS and BROP, a vehicle owned by OPTrust and Béjar. The transaction was advised by Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), Greenhill and Nomura. Juan Béjar will be the president of Bruc Energy and Luis Venero the CEO.