Fresno, California [RenewableEnergyAccess.com] Universities are playing a major role in the advancement of renewable energy technology in the research and development sector. No less important, however, is the increasing implementation of solar, wind, biomass and hybrid systems on campuses across the U.S. as an example to students everywhere that renewable energy is not just a pipe dream reserved for the wealthy and technologically savvy — but a practical reality for all.One such project is currently under way at California State University (CSU), Fresno, where construction has begun on a one-megawatt solar panel-topped parking structure system being built by Chevron Energy Solutions, a subsidiary of the oil-conglomerate Chevron. The $11.9-million project received approval from the California State University Board of Trustees last summer, and is scheduled for completion by this fall. “All aspects of this project will expand and enhance our campus education on sustainability and our community’s knowledge of solar energy while reducing our energy cost for the next 30 years,” said Cynthia Teniente-Matson, Fresno State vice president for administration and chief financial officer. Photovoltaic panels installed atop 10 metal shelters will shade more than 700 parking spaces from the San Joaquin Valley sun, and generate approximately 20 percent of the university’s base demand, said Teniente-Matson. The project will be integrated with the educational mission and Strategic Plan of the university, as well as aligned with the College of Engineering and the Physics Department. In both of those areas, an information kiosk will provide online, real time status of the photovoltaic production, conversion and electricity output. “The Strategic Plan addresses our need to become a more environmentally aware campus by expanding recycling, sustainability in building design and construction, improved energy efficiency and environmental education,” said Teniente-Matson. The project is also part of the California State University system’s commitment to “green” programs and increase environmental education. CSU trustees recently revised the 23-campus system’s energy policy with a goal of reducing fossil fuel consumption by 15 percent, following a 10 percent reduction from 1999 through 2005. In addition to the using solar panels for electrical generation, the covered parking areas will provide ultraviolet and environmental (tree leaves, etc.) vehicle protection including much-welcomed shade in the summer months, said Teniente-Matson. “Solar power is an important resource in the global energy portfolio,” said Jim Davis, president of Chevron Energy Solutions. “Through this project, Fresno State is demonstrating that clean, renewable power is commercially viable and growing in demand.” Construction on the project will be done in phases to minimize the impact of parking lot closings on students. A substantial part of the work will occur after Commencement in May at the end of spring semester classes, which decreases parking demand. Phase 1 will start with renovation of the south part of student parking Lot V, which is at Woodrow and Shaw avenues, directly west of the Student Recreation Center, said Bob Boyd, associate vice president for facilities management.