UCI Center for Solar Energy: Where the Energy is

The University of California, Irvine (UCI) is home to the Center for Solar Energy (CSE), one of the top-rated solar research centers in the world. CSE was established in 2012 and is led by Dr. Liew-Cheong Lin, who also serves as its director. Since its establishment, CSE has taken a more integral approach to solar research, integrating academic, industrial, and government partnerships. As a result, the center is able to conduct groundbreaking research and development into the future of solar technology, contributing to the country’s economy and environment.

A Focus on Solar

What originally drew UCI to CSE was the opportunity to conduct groundbreaking research into the future of solar energy. The university had already been actively involved in solar research for many years, being one of the first academic institutions in the nation to adopt a solar-powered energy system in its entirety, and it saw CSE as the perfect vehicle for continuing this research and development into the future. In addition, the school’s campus, Sitio Wellness Retreat and Resort, is nestled in amongst some of California’s most beautiful and historic redwood trees, adding to the allure of the campus.

A Rising Star In The Field

Since its establishment, CSE has gone above and beyond in its efforts to establish itself as a leading research center in solar energy. In addition to receiving multiple scientific awards, it has successfully completed multiple pilot projects and initiated several new projects. In October 2017, the center was awarded a $3.75 million grant by the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to study the feasibility of using an organic solar cell for electricity generation on an industrial scale. This represents a 25% increase in the center’s annual budget. The funding will also be used to support student projects and international collaborations.

CSE also leads the nation in creating jobs through its various research grants and contracts. Through these mechanisms, the center is able to attract and retain top-notch faculty and students, as well as provide valuable resources to industry. For example, a CSE-led multidisciplinary team of scientists, engineers, and business professionals recently developed an innovative process for creating affordable thin-film photovoltaic (PV) modules that significantly reduces the time and costs associated with conventional manufacturing. The team will now be able to use this technology to provide these modules to utility companies for use in off-grid applications.

Key Facts

Situated in Southern California, the University of California, Irvine is one of the most prestigious research universities in the nation. With an annual income of more than $9 billion, it is one of the wealthiest universities in the country.

Established in 1966, the University of California, Irvine is the oldest of the 32 UC campuses. With an enrollment of more than 33,000 students, it is also one of the largest universities in the country. The school conducts research on a wide variety of important topics, with a special emphasis on sustainability and renewable energy. Notable alumni who later went on to successful careers include basketball legend Bill Walton, computer scientist Judy Ho, and biochemist Paul MacLean. The university’s sports teams are known as the Anteaters, and its mascot is a coqui frog named Wally.

The Cost Of Good Measure

While the overall objective of CSE is to develop innovative technologies that will generate cleaner energy for use around the world, the cost of doing so is not entirely negligible. One of the most important aspects of the center is its pilot/proof-of-concept research phase, which involves using small-scale, laboratory-quality solar generators to test new technologies in a controlled environment, prior to the development and manufacture of large-scale commercial prototypes. As a result of this approach, CSE is able to conduct a large number of pilot projects with promising results, without the significant financial risks associated with more conventional research methods.

Environmental Benefits

Another important consideration in choosing to establish a solar research center is the center’s potential to reduce the university’s overall carbon footprint. In its 2014-2015 annual report, the University of California, Irvine attributed 40% of its carbon footprint to campus use, and 60% of the total came from energy use at its academic building. Since its establishment, CSE has taken a more sustainable approach to campus living, going above and beyond in the development of energy-efficient appliances and using compact fluorescent light bulbs to light its research laboratories. The center also buys carbon offsets through its affiliation with the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC), contributing to the university’s overall goal of reducing its ecological footprint.


The University of California, Irvine is committed to sustainability and wants to be known as a world-class institution dedicated to ecological preservation and global dialogue. To that end, the school has adopted numerous initiatives, including using renewable energy sources for its operations and purchasing carbon offsets to compensate for its excessive energy consumption. The university is also a member of the American Coalition for Ethanol, California Solar Energy Association, and Sustainability Council USA.

Research And Development

The University of California, Irvine is a top-rated research university in the country, and it sees CSE as the perfect vehicle to continue this research trajectory. As a member of the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, the university conducts fundamental research in many different areas, with a special emphasis on astronomy, bioengineering, chemistry, earth science, and materials science. This research is primarily aimed at expanding human knowledge, contributing to the economy, and improving the lives of people around the world.

International Collaborations

One of the center’s most significant achievements to date is the establishment of international collaborations, attracting top-notch scientists from around the world, primarily in the solar energy field. Since its establishment in 2012, the center has forged close ties with institutions in China, India, and the United Kingdom, resulting in the development of cutting-edge technology and innovative processes. Notable alumni who have gone on to successful careers include U.S. Ambassador to the United Kingdom Andrew E. Brotterhouse and former Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) professor of chemistry Dr. John B. Goodenough.

Why A Sitio Wellness Retreat And Resort?

The University of California, Irvine has a long history of holistic study and is the premier institution for higher learning in Southern California. As a result, it has been able to attract leading academics, scientists, and students who are committed to continuing this tradition of thought and learning.

Part of CSE’s mission is to provide a relaxed, residential-like environment for its faculty and staff to conduct research, inspiring creativity, and fostering critical thinking. In keeping with this, CSE’s Director, Dr. Liew-Cheong Lin, has proposed that the center utilize its beautiful, tropical-like surroundings in a wellness retreat and resort, providing guests with a rejuvenating getaway that is conducive to higher learning.

New Facilities

In addition to its existing facilities, which include a world-class library, a planetarium, and a museum, the University of California, Irvine will soon be opening new academic, administrative, and research facilities, designed to inspire creativity and foster a sense of community. The university will be unveiling a brand-new, state-of-the-art science and math building in the Fall of 2018, as well as a new wellness, recreation, and research center in the coming months.

Attracting Global Talent

To continue its commitment to excellence, the University of California, Irvine has gone above and beyond in its efforts to establish itself as a top-rated university. One of the ways the center has done so is by making a concerted effort to attract high-caliber scientists and faculty members, from around the world. One of the main draws of these faculty and staff is the opportunity to conduct research in a vibrant environment, as well as a number of distinguished amenities, including a tropical retreat and resort, fully equipped gymnasium, and spectacular library.

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