The University of California, Riverside is now using a bank of lithium ion batteries to help reduce its peak electrical load, while creating a powerful engineering research lab. Housed in the Winston Chung Hall, this 1.1 Megawatt-hour battery bank is one of the largest battery storage systems currently installed in a university setting.

According to Sadrul Ula, managing director of the college’s Winston Chung Global Energy Center and UCR research faculty member:

“This system allows us to store energy when supply is plentiful during late night hours and utilize it when maximum demand during the afternoon stresses the grid to the limit. We can also charge the batteries when clean renewable energy from wind and solar is available and deliver it when it is needed, thereby adding value to these intermittent forms of energy.”

This battery bank is already being used by UCR engineering students for research, including a senior electrical engineering design project on data acquisition and a sophomore-level chemical and environmental engineering student’s instrumentation research.

The system includes a 160 kW battery charger, 240 kW inverter, 330 1000AH batteries, a battery management system, and related power electronic components. It is housed within a set of storage cabinets. And, together, this system of batteries is able to power the first floor of Winston Chung Hall, which includes classrooms, offices, computer and instructional laboratories, and a café.

In January, UCR received a $2 million award from the South Coast Air Quality Management District that will be matched by other industry and government sponsors to further the campus’s energy endeavors. This funding will be used in support of the installation of “solar arrays, advanced battery storage, vehicle charging stations, an electric trolley, and a grid management system to efficiently provide clean energy to electric vehicles.”