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The University of Lancaster both produces and uses more renewable energy than any other university in the UK. (c) Ian Taylor
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What universities can learn from leaders in clean energy

India Benjamin

12th October, 2017

Are universities leading the way when it comes to producing their own energy - and if so, which university is top of the table? INDIA BENJAMIN investigates.

More than 60 percent of universities in the UK have solar installations, with a combined solar capacity to power 1,800 homes for a year.

Comparing universities across the country, GoCompare Energycan reveal which higher education institutions produce and use the most renewable energy.

During the 2015/16 academic year, the University of Lancaster produced the largest amount of clean energy, creating 8,121,209 kWh through a combination of its privately-owned wind turbine and a biomass installation. The energy produced contributed to 11 percent of the institution's total energy needs for the year.

Solar installations

Edinburgh's Queen Margaret University came out top in terms of its energy mix by generating enough power to fulfil 45 percent of the institution's total energy needs over the year. The university has reduced its overall carbon footprint by 90 percent since the installation of a 1.4MWH biomass boiler in 2008.

Top 10 universities by renewable energy production:

  1. The University of Lancaster (8,121,209 kWh)
  2. Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh (5,180,700 kWh)
  3. The University of York (3,201,572 kWh)
  4. Cranfield University (2,174,794 kWh)
  5. The University of Cambridge (1,867,298 kWh)
  6. University of Ulster (1,613,704 kWh)
  7. The University of Sheffield (1,535,680 kWh)
  8. The University of Surrey (1,232,283 kWh)
  9. Glasgow School of Art (1,151,000 kWh)
  10. The University of Leicester (981,932 kWh)

Biomass accounts for most (62%) of the renewable energy used by universities, with wind (16%) and solar (16%) making up the majority of the rest. However, when it comes to producing renewable energy, 60 percent of universities in the UK have solar installations, with a combined solar capacity of 6,803,700 kWh annually - enough to power 1,800 homes for a year.

Switch energy providers

Biomass is the second most common way universities generate their own energy, with 34 universities having facilities onsite. UK wide, universities generate a total of 26,585,581 kWh a year, equivalent to the energy used by over 7,000 homes. Just six universities produce wind power using their own resources, with only the universities of Lancaster, Ulster, and Sheffield producing significant amounts.

Ben Wilson from GoCompare Energy said: "Most of us know the feeling of being hit with a bill that's bigger than expected. For larger institutions which require a substantial amount of energy to operate smoothly, big bills can rack up quickly - but there are ways to make considerable savings.

"Finding innovative ways to generate energy is one way to combat big bills in the long term. For a more instant result, you should be regularly switching energy suppliers to make sure you're on the best tariff possible.  In fact, businesses and universities can switch energy providers much in the same way that consumers can."

This Author

India Benjamin is Senior Digital Media Executive at Epiphany Search. She writes for Huff Post and Elite Daily and can be found tweeting at @IndiaBenjamin


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