Aberystwyth University gets green light for £2.9m solar farm

Aberystwyth University gets green light for £2.9m solar farm

The solar farm will sit on university owned land at Aberystwyth University’s Penglais Campus. Image: ScottWaby.

Aberystwyth University has got the green light for the development of a £2.9 million solar array on land adjacent to its Fferm Penglais student accommodation.

Work is set to begin on the 2.5MW solar array in February 2022, with approximately 5,000 solar panels installed across the four-hectare site. When completed, it will generate around 35% of the Penglais Campus’s electricity requirements, helping to reduce its carbon emissions by 8% a year.

Over the lifetime of the installation, it is expected to save the university £18 million in electricity costs, saving approximately £320,000 a year.

Non-departmental public body Salix is providing a £2.6 million loan for the project, through the Wales Funding Programme, and will be repaid over the course of ten years.

Aberystwyth University pro-vice chancellor, Professor Neil Glasser, who is responsible for the university’s environmental and sustainability policies, said it is commited to “doing everything we can to reduce our energy consumption and decarbonise our operations”.

“We have invested in multiple energy efficient technologies, conducted research into carbon reduction, and are now looking to make use of the land we own to create our own renewable energy through solar power, all of which will help support our pledge to become carbon neutral by 2030.”

The solar farm adds to more than £3.4 million in investment made by the university into energy efficiency projects over the last year, including installing and optimising Building Energy Management Systems, upgrading lighting and improving pipework insulation amongst other initiatives.

Thus far Aberystwyth University has received over £1.8 million in funding from Salix Finance in partnership with the Welsh Government. It expects to entirely pay back these interest free loans, making the upgrades cost neutral.

The university first announced its intention to develop a ground-mount solar site back in March. A number of universities are looking to solar to help them reach their decarbonisation targets, including, including the University of Edinburgh installing a ground-mount solar farm in September 2020, Keele University signing a 25-year agreement with ENGIE in December 2020 that will see 15,000 solar panels, wind turbines and battery storage installed and Goldsmiths University in London announcing plans to install “significantly” more solar PV in 2019.

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