Northumbria University is set to benefit from lower electricity bills and a new income of funds following the completion of its second solar panel installation.
The new 110kW array on the university’s Sport Central facility is one of the largest in Newcastle and will save the institution an estimated £9,000 from its electricity bill by meeting all of its demand. The project was brought forward and completed on 18 December to ensure the installation could benefit from a higher feed-in tariff (FiT) rate. The university is set to receive £8,500 a year from the generation tariff.
This means the campus is set to benefit to the tune of £17,500 a year, as well as save over 40 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions (CO2) in this time.
In addition to the new solar array, the university also improved the 40kW solar system on its Northumberland Building, which was fitted with a solar façade in 1995. The panels have been fully cleaned and repaired to ensure they will continue to provide electricity for another 20 years, as well as save around 11 tonnes of CO2 per year. The university also expects savings of around £2,500 from the array.
Damon Kent, director of campus services at Northumbria University, said: “As one of the largest organisations in the region, we are committed to environmental sustainability to ensure that we are leading by example and encouraging new ways of thinking in our student and staff populations. As such, we have introduced a range of initiatives covering the design and use of our buildings, as well as the procurement of our goods and services, to ensure we are working as effectively and responsibly as possible.
“The installation of the new solar array at Sport Central, combined with the refurbishment of panels on Northumberland Building, will support this work, meaning that Northumbria can guarantee it is saving over 50 tonnes of CO2 emissions each year.”
The new and existing panels form part of the university’s carbon management plan which aims to reduce carbon emissions by 32.5% from their level in 2005 by the year 2020. As well as undertaking a range of measures including LED lighting, gas boiler replacements and improvements to Building Management Systems, the viability of a third solar installation is currently being assessed. The planned 150kW solar PV array would be located at the Coach Lane Campus, saving a further 60 tonnes of CO2 annually. While the planned work would be completed by 30 April 2016, the university has had to alter its plans to suit the new tariff regime.
A spokesperson for the univeristy told Clean Energy News: “The drop in FIT has made a significant difference, which means that we need to carefully consider the viability of future installations to ensure we can achieve an acceptable return on investment. We are now considering an array of less than 50kW for the array at Coach Lane Campus to attract the higher feed-in tariff rate.”
As well as reducing its costs through solar installations, Northumbria University will run its Go Green Week in February to encourage students and staff to identify ways to support the environment.