The largest UK university wind turbine project in the country, costing £7.4million, is to meet the energy needs of 7,000 students
The project, comprising two 2.3MW turbines, will cut carbon emissions at Lancaster University by more than 38 per cent and meet the electricity requirements of all the students living on campus.
Other key elements of the green plan include the use of biomass boilers to provide heat for parts of the site and the introduction of smart meter technology.
The scheme is part of the Lancaster University’s Sustainable Infrastructure Masterplan, a ground-breaking programme to make the University campus one of the most sustainable in Britain and a world leader on meeting the challenge of climate change.
Lancaster will receive a repayable grant of £5 million towards the £7.4m needed to build the turbines on its Hazelrigg site, east of the M6, from the Higher Education Funding Council (HEFCE), if the plan gets the go-ahead at the meeting of Lancaster City Council planning committee on Monday.
The University — whose proposal was described as “exceptional” — was one of only three out of 37 applicants to win funding from HEFCE’s £10m Transformational Fund.
The fund has been made available specifically for Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) across England to radically transform their approaches to energy consumption and reducing emissions. Lancaster was awarded half the overall total available.
Steve Egan, Deputy Chief Executive of HEFCE, said: “Higher education has a substantial contribution to make in the area of sustainable development. Lancaster University’s proposals were exceptional. They presented a very thorough case for a project that could significantly reduce its emissions.”
The remaining funds required for the project will come directly from the University’s own budget through major savings on electricity bills, as the wind turbines will achieve a seven-year payback.
Lancaster University Environment and Sustainability Manager Jonathan Mills said the wind turbines would play a major role in lowering its carbon footprint — reducing its reliance on electricity from the national grid and helping it address the global threat of climate change, as well as oil and gas depletion.
He added: “We believe everyone has a part to play in carbon reduction and in creating real change. The wind turbine plan would make a major contribution to reducing the carbon footprint of the campus. It will also cut our electricity bills significantly.
“We have taken very seriously any impact the project might have on the local area and environment, with the turbines we’re proposing using the very latest technology available. We have also worked closely with experts to develop a detailed long-term ecology and landscape management plan for the Hazelrigg site.”
The project also has the backing of GreenLancaster, which was founded by Lancaster University Students’ Union and aims to promote environmental issues across the University and the wider community.
Student Union President Michael Payne explained: “Lancaster University is really showing the way forward with this plan and should be commended for its commitment to addressing the challenges of global warming and climate change, which will impact on us all.
“This is a major opportunity to reduce carbon emissions, something that is in the interests of everyone living, working and studying in Lancaster and we hope planners will look favourably on it.”
As part of the project, children at the pre-school nursery on campus have been learning about wind turbines and renewable energy. The youngsters have also put together a special mural of a landscape, featuring wind turbines as part of a ‘Green Week’.