St Andrews targets carbon neutrality with £25m biomass facility
St Andrews University has secured funding for a new £25 million biomass plant and heat distribution network in Guardbridge, Fife.
Built on the site of an old paper mill, the facility will burn locally-sourced wood, pumping the resultant hot water four miles underground to St Andrews to heat and cool its labs and residences.
It is expected to save around 10,000 tonnes of CO2 annually.
The Scottish Partnership for Regeneration in Urban Centres (SPRUCE) will invest £11m to go alongside £10m from the Scottish Funding Council and £4m from the university itself.
St Andrews Quaestor and Factor Derek Watson said “Guardbridge represents a major strategic step for the University.
“We are committed to becoming carbon neutral and this large industrial site lends itself to the creation of a range of renewable energies which are vital to our efforts to remain one of Europe’s leading research institutions.”
In addition to the energy centre, the University also hopes to establish a Knowledge Exchange Hub to provide “missing link” facilities which would allow research and discoveries made in university labs to be translated to working prototypes.
The Centre will also offer affordable accommodation to local companies, with the aim of attracting businesses and skills linked to the renewables sector.
St Andrews is also planning to build six wind turbines near Boarhills in an attempt to reduce soaring energy bills which could threaten investment in teaching and research,the university warned.
The plan to become carbon-neutral by 2016 appears entirely doable given the low-carbon success of Scotland and the green innovations of higher-education institutes around the country.
Biofuels at Sustainability Live 2015
Fuel made from waste could replace 16% of all the fuel used on European roads by 2030 according to research, but the UK is failing to harness this bioenergy potential. The uptake of biofuels will be discussed in detail at Sustainability Live in April, with a session at the Energy Recovery Theatre examining the opportunities and challenges in converting waste to fuel.