A new solar initiative was officially opened Nov. 5 at the University of California Riverside dedicated to spurring the adoption of solar power in Southern California through research, technology and education.
At the kickoff celebration, at the College of Engineering -Center for Environmental Research and Technology (CE-CERT), UCR Chancellor Timothy White made a significant gesture to ensuring that the work of the new initiative finds its way into practical use.
“I am going to instruct our staff here at the University of California, Riverside, as we build from this day forward, that we use the appropriate developments from SC-RISE in powering green buildings, including our emerging School of Medicine,” said Chancellor White.
“That will be very important for us not only to talk the talk, but walk the walk, and take the ideas that are tested and established here at SC-RISE and apply them in the way we fill out this wonderful university campus.”
More than 150 people turned out for the kickoff of the So Cal Research Initiative for Solar Energy (SC-RISE) which intends to become a magnet for research and a clearinghouse for information to help operationalize the adoption of affordable solar energy in one of the world’s sunniest regions.
White recognized the vision of Riverside Mayor Ronald Loveridge who two days earlier had won his fourth term. Mayor Loveridge, the City Council and Riverside Public Utilities approved the start up funding for the solar initiative. Riverside, which promotes itself as “the City of Arts and Innovation” was recently named one of the world’s 21 Smartest Cities by the Intelligent Community Forum (ICF). The Department of Conservation also recently recognized Riverside as one of the state’s greenest cities, designating it as California first “Emerald City.”
“We are committed to be in a green place,” Mayor Loveridge said, “and we see (SC-RISE) as a major place where we can participate.”
“When you look at the future of California I don’t know how you can see a good future without connecting with the work that takes place on this campus,” said Loveridge, who has had dual careers as a politician and a college professor.
“One of the more disappointing things (in my careers) has been the sort of separation of research and application, or diffusion of innovation, and what’s exciting about this center is It’s talking about research and application and training,” Loveridge continued. “It’s connecting something that needs to be connected – the best research at the University of California.
“I look forward to SE-RISE being a distinguishing center for us and UC Riverside–for us and Southern California–as an example of what the University of California does in taking its research and connecting it with best practices,” the mayor added.
Just before the ceremony more than two dozen engineers, educators and industry representatives spent two hours discussing the direction and potential of SC-RISE. Rajan Kasetty, CEO of Terrafore Inc., which is already collaborating with CE-CERT on solar energy storage technology, emphasized the promise of collaboration by researchers, public and private capital, and real world demonstrations to move technology forward. “The day will come,” he said, “when this will become the “go to” place for getting information and getting things done in solar energy.”
Reza Abbaschian, Dean of UCR’s Bourns College of Engineering, earlier traced the origin of SC-RISE to a four-party agreement made at the 50th anniversary celebration of the Sister City relationship between Riverside and Sendai City in Japan. UC Riverside and Sendai’s Tohoku University joined the two cities in challenging themselves to effective collaboration.
The track record of the CE-CERT as an “honest broker” in promoting science to improve environmental policy will be important to SC-RISE, according to Chancellor White.
CE-CERT “is the perfect home, the perfect crucible for this initiative to be successful. This initiative places us at the front edge of new and exciting technologies and it really continues the legacy of CE-CERT which is a national legacy of bringing together the very best minds – minds in academia, minds in industry, minds in government to find solutions to the most important issues that confront our society.
“(Honest broker) is really is the unique role of an American public university,” White said, “to be the place where ideas are tested but scientific data helps direct the outcome -- not politics, not wishful thinking but science. And in our world today we need to make certain that the big decisions that are made in policy, the big decisions that are made in investments by the private sector, the big decisions that are made by the public sector, be it at the local, the state or the national level, are based on the very best science.”
The Chancellor also presented a Certificate of Recognition from the California State Assembly offering best wishes to the success of the solar initiative.