The University of Surrey has unveiled further details of its new 12.2MW solar facility on its own land to the west of Guildford that will help the campus accelerate its journey to net zero.
The University’s partnership with SSE Energy Solutions will step up its on-site renewable energy generation from 0.1% to 20% of total annual demand. Once complete, it will be capable of generating enough energy to supply the equivalent of 4,000 UK homes each year.
The project offers an opportunity to enhance the surrounding biodiversity of the land with wildflower planting, nature corridors, hedgerow expansion and bug hotels.
Solar facilities that have been monitored regularly by ecologists demonstrate an increase over time in the local abundance and variety of plants, pollinators, birds, and other wildlife.
Professor Bob Nichol, the University of Surrey’s Executive Lead for Climate Change, said:
“The University of Surrey community is dedicated to doing our bit to minimise global warming and our move to home-generated solar power is an important part of our plans. Big strides like this are essential for organisations to reduce their carbon footprints. Increasing our solar generation is just one part of Surrey’s sustainability story and our road to ‘Net Zero’.”
Pieter D’haen, senior development manager from SSE Energy Solutions, said:
“We are a responsible developer with in-depth expertise in operating low carbon infrastructure. Now more than ever it is essential to accelerate the indigenous generation of clean energy to enhance the national security of energy supply and the University of Surrey project is a great example of what communities can do to play their part.”
A local community event is planned prior to submitting the planning application to gather feedback from the residents and discuss questions about the project.
The solar facility will reduce carbon emissions by an estimated 1,110 tonnes per year and is crucial in meeting the University’s 2030 net zero carbon target, established using the science-based targets initiative.
Surrey has already made inroads towards meeting its target and cut emissions by 24% between 2005 and 2019 and will be rolling out the first phase of its staff and student electric vehicle charging programme later this year.
Another step to solidify its leading status in the sector will be the launch of the Surrey Institute for Sustainability later this year, to enable inter-disciplinary research.
SSE recently unveiled an ambitious £12.5bn capital investment plan to accelerate progress towards net zero and its distributed energy team brings real-world, practical experience of implementing low carbon distributed energy solutions on the ground. This solar project with the University is just one example of its efforts to help people and places to decarbonise and move towards net zero. The UK Government has also recently announced the intention to increase the national solar capacity by five times by 2035.