Hayward's renewable energy progress

By Ciaran Gallagher

You’ve heard about the houses that are completely powered by their own rooftop solar energy, right? What about powering all of a city’s operations with renewable energy? That’s exactly what Hayward committed to when the City Council established a Zero Net Energy (ZNE) goal for the municipal operations by 2025. This means that City-owned renewable energy will power or offset the City’s total electricity and natural gas demand. So, when you walk around Hayward, even the streetlights will be powered by local, clean energy.

Currently, Hayward generates approximately 11.7 million kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year through a number of key renewable energy projects. First, the co-generation system at the Water Pollution Control Facility (WPCF), Hayward’s wastewater treatment plant, uses a wastewater treatment byproduct to fuel a combustion engine to produce electricity. Behind the WPCF is a 1 megawatt field of solar panels that produces 20% of Hayward’s energy demand. Lastly, the City has installed small rooftop solar systems on City facilities such as the Animal Shelter, the Corporation Yard, and one of the fire stations. With these renewable energy generation projects, Hayward generates almost half of the City’s total energy demand, which is an excellent start to the City’s ambitious goal.

The City of Hayward has three upcoming renewable energy projects that will bring it closer to achieving the ZNE goal. Hayward’s 21st Century Library will open this fall, which will be a ZNE building. The library will be all electric, powered entirely by solar panels, and will have a rainwater capture system. Rooftop solar systems are also being installed on four additional fire stations, and a 2-MW extension to the WPCF solar array will be online by early 2019. These projects are expected to increase Hayward’s energy generation from almost half to two-thirds of the City’s energy demand.

The ZNE goal is a testament to the City of Hayward’s commitment to climate change mitigation and local clean energy generation. The goal also demonstrates the kind of meaningful action that cities can take to address climate change. The Bay Area and California are preparing for the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco this September where actions by states, cities, and citizens will be celebrated and inspire more climate commitments. The municipal ZNE goal protects the Hayward community by reducing air pollution and investing in local energy while also demonstrating Hayward’s climate leadership.