By Anders Lorenzen
The prestigious University of St. Andrews, the oldest in Scotland, has hailed a significant step towards what they describe as their ambitious net-zero plan. Part of its net-zero target solar farm has been unveiled by the Scottish Government’s Finance and Economy Secretary, Kate Forbes (MSP).
St Andrews University has announced that it wants to contribute to a fair transition away from fossil fuels and also to play a leading role in a successful local and national economy.
The newly unveiled solar farm will provide electricity to the University’s campus and will reduce its carbon footprint by 5%.
Campus to be carbon-neutral within five years
As part of St Andrews’s net-zero plan, it will also extend its district heating network. This network currently pipes hot water from a £25 million biomass plant to 48 University buildings and to 3000 student rooms in St Andrews. With the addition of the 1 megawatt (MW) solar farm, the expectation is that the Eden Campus will be a carbon-neutral working environment within the next five years. Apart from providing electricity to the Water Bower House building as well as to other buildings on the campus, it will also provide electric vehicle charging points and battery storage capacity.
The Scottish Government has welcomed these net-zero ambitions. When unveiling the solar farm, Kate Forbes said: “Scotland’s colleges and universities have a key role to play in rebuilding our economy and in helping Scotland meet its economic and climate goals in a way that is inclusive, as well as being beneficial on a local, national and international scale. The leadership shown by the University of St Andrews in transforming the Eden Campus into a vibrant centre of green innovation and job creation will ensure further opportunities for the University to harness green energy and drive inclusive growth in the local economy”.
The University Principal and Vice-Chancellor, Professor Sally Mapstone, clearly proud of the achievement said: “We are one of the world’s most ancient universities, but we strive to be one of the most modern and innovative. Social responsibility and sustainability are at the heart of our strategic plan. We are committed to a programme of decarbonisation, the efficient use of heat and water resources across our estate, as well as a deep-seated institutional commitment to all forms of environmental ( ? degradation) improvement by 2035, through sustainable practice and policy.”
Sally Mapstone further explained that the University is also undertaking what she calls world-leading research into harnessing green energy – citing the development of hydrogen trains. She said this has fostered strong collaborative relationships between St Andrews and more than 100 companies since 2020.
St Andrews is located in Fife in southeast Scotland, 85 kilometres (55 miles) northeast of Edinburgh.