Aberystwyth University is on track to become one of the greenest campuses in Wales after investing in multiple energy saving initiatives and announcing the establishment of its own solar farm, which will power up to to a quarter of its electricity needs.
The Â£ 2.9million solar panel, which will be located on university land adjacent to its Fferm Penglais student accommodation, is expected to reduce annual energy bills by more than Â£ 320,000 and related carbon emissions. energy of 8% per year.
Aberystwyth will be one of the few universities in the UK to develop its own large-scale solar generator. The project is part of a larger plan to become carbon neutral by 2030.
In the past year, the university has invested more than Â£ 3.4million in campus energy efficiency projects, including upgrading lighting to more efficient LED models in 14 buildings , installation and optimization of building energy management systems (BEMS) throughout the site, improvement of insulation pipelines in technical rooms, addition of new modern freezers and plant growth cabinets to replace inefficient units. The university has also upgraded its air handling unit in its zoology facility, as well as the lighting of its greenhouses, which are a key energy consumer due to its carbon capture research.
In total, the initiatives put in place over the past 12 months will save Â£ 350,000 per year and 900 tonnes of carbon dioxide. The university has also ensured that much of the work is done by local suppliers and contractors to benefit the local economy.
These projects were made possible by funding from Salix Finance in partnership with the Welsh government, which provides interest-free loans to the public sector to invest in energy efficient technologies. The university has received over Â£ 1.8million in funding from Salix, with the remainder of the projects funded by a combination of the university’s own capital and a grant from the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) . Salix loans will be paid. over a period of years, the savings on the university’s energy bills, making them cost neutral.
Now, the university is eagerly awaiting the next phase of its energy saving plans with the installation of its bespoke 2.5 megawatt solar generator. Work on the project, which is scheduled to begin in February 2022, will see around 5,000 solar panels installed across a four-hectare facility.
Once operational, they will generate around 25% of the annual electricity needs of the Penglais Campus, the equivalent of the energy consumed by more than 500 households, which will reduce carbon emissions by 8% per year. Over the life of the panels, the university is expected to save Â£ 18million in electricity costs.
The project will also be supported by Salix with a Â£ 2.6million loan from the Wales Funding Program, with funding to be repaid over ten years.
Aberystwyth University Pro-Vice Chancellor Professor Neil Glasser, who is responsible for the university’s environmental and sustainability policies, said:
âAs a key employer and landowner in the region, we are committed to doing everything possible to reduce our energy consumption and decarbonize our operations so that we operate in a responsible and environmentally sustainable manner.
“We have invested in several energy efficient technologies, conducted research on reducing carbon emissions and are now looking to use the land we own to create our own renewable energy through solar power, which will help support our commitment to become carbon neutral. by 2030.