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23rd May 2024

65% of UoM’s electricity demand to be supplied by new solar farm deal

As part of the University of Manchester’s goal of zero carbon emissions by 2038, a new contract has been signed which meets 65% of the University’s electricity demand with clean, renewable electricity
65% of UoM’s electricity demand to be supplied by new solar farm deal
Credit: American Public Power Association @ Unsplash

65% of the University of Manchester’s electricity demand will be supplied by a solar farm, under a contract managed by UK clean energy technology company Enviromena.

The solar farm will consist of 104,000 panels; equivalent to 70 football pitches, and spanning 175 acres.

A new solar farm over 200 miles away from Manchester in Medebridge, Essex, will be responsible for generating the renewable, clean electricity.

This contract is a significant step towards the University’s goal of achieving zero carbon emissions by 2038, a target the University set in 2019.

Under the Corporate Power Purchase Agreement (cPPA), the “contract that secures this investment,” the University has committed to purchasing 80% of the Medebridge farm’s annual generation capacity for the next decade.

Securing the cPPA amounts to reducing the University’s carbon emissions by 12,000 t/co2 every year; a figure which is equivalent to powering 21,000 homes.

This will works towards “not only a greener University of Manchester, but a greener energy grid across the UK,” said Dr Julian Skyrme, the director of social responsibility.

As a part of the University’s core aim of ‘social responsibility,’ it has set several goals to reduce its environmental impact. This renewable energy deal is one of them, alongside plans to create a zero-carbon campus, developing a platform called Sustainable Futures, and eliminating single-use plastics in different sites.

Environmena acquired the Medebridge land in 2022. Construction began in April 2024, with the project expected to be completed in autumn 2025.

The “landmark agreement” has been three years in the making, facing obstacles such as the 2022 energy crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The deal “reinforces our commitment to sustainability whilst delivering best value to our students and stakeholders,” said Lee Barlow, the University’s Project Lead and Finance and Administration Manager.

In terms of the University’s environmental and sustainability aims, it has been ranked as number 1 in the UK, number 1 in Europe, and number 2 in the world for its social and environmental impact by Times Higher Education. THE Impact Rankings assessed 1,705 universities across 115 countries.

Alexandra Baynes

Alexandra Baynes

Head Editor of Opinion Section. Radio Host on Fuse FM. Twitter: @lexiebayness

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