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Keele University aims to become "carbon neutral" on energy consumption

Keele University is aiming to become 'carbon neutral' on its energy consumption and reduce dependency on the national grid using a range of alternative energy sources.

Directly related to the Staffordshire-based university's teaching and research expertise, these technologies would contribute to an innovative research hub for the study and development of sustainable forms of energy.

The plans were unveiled at an event on campus attended by local residents, staff and students from the University, representatives from local and regional organisations and potential development partners Nexen Exploration UK and Partnerships For Renewables, a company established by The Carbon Trust.

The University's plans for the development of sustainable energy builds on its strong track-record on energy saving and research expertise in renewable energy sources.

Keele recently achieved the Carbon Trust Standard after reducing its carbon output on energy consumption by three per cent. The Carbon Trust Standard is the world's only initiative that requires an organisation to take action themselves by reducing their own carbon emissions year-on-year.

Keele University's campus has unrivalled potential to form a unique hub for research, development and demonstration of a range of environmental and sustainable technologies. If work with potential commercial partners goes ahead, the University aims to half its consumption of external sources of energy and generate much of its own power from renewable sources on campus. The campus itself could become an innovative 'land-lab', a show-case for the implementation and study of renewable energy resources on a multi-use site.

The University is investigating sources of funding for a £20M development comprising a research centre and enhancements to the campus environment including £5M for sustainable energy research and technology. The University's Faculty of Natural Sciences has already received some £0.75M from the Higher Education Funding Council for England to fund energy research.

"The emphasis will be on a mix of energy sources rather than a reliance on any one single source," said Professor Patrick Bailey, Dean of the Faculty of Natural Sciences. "We aim to reduce external energy consumption by 50 per cent within five years and to become completely 'carbon neutral' in our energy usage within 10 years. In addition, we will create a campus community with sustainable energy at the heart of its ethos and values. There are exciting possibilities for joint enterprises with industry and government, the development of courses and training programmes and the development of research expertise with UK and international partners."

Energy saving initiatives on campus have so far included a major boiler and control replacement programme, improvements to building fabric, upgrading of lighting and considerable replacement of aged water mains.

Phil Butters, Assistant Director of Keele’s Commercial and Facilities Management Directorate, said: "The University has taken a disciplined approach to the maintenance of energy related control equipment. We have conducted a staff awareness campaign to reduce end-user electricity consumption and piloted solar hot water generation in halls of residence. The combination of disciplined 'house-keeping' and utilities management with leading-edge research and practice puts us in a strong position to achieve our ambitious energy reduction targets."

Jerry Sturman, Development Director for Partnership For Renewables, added: “We are delighted to be working with Keele University to deliver their ambitious sustainable energy plans for the campus. Partnerships For Renewables is committed to only developing wind turbines in appropriate locations and there is still a lot of work required to clarify the appropriateness of siting a wind turbine development at the University.

“If the results of early study work continue to prove positive we will start more in depth work and ensure that the local community is central to the development process. Designing a good wind turbine development takes time and even if our work progresses well we are likely to be well into 2010 before a planning application is submitted.”

Hannah Hiles | alfa
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