UK universities ink £50m renewables deal

A group of 20 UK universities has agreed a £50m deal to purchase renewable energy over a 10-year period through the Energy Consortium (TEC).

UK universities ink £50m renewables deal

The energy will be supplied by TEC’s current and future energy partners

TEC will supply renewable power to universities including Newcastle, Exeter and Aberystwyth as part of a 10-year, fixed-price, power purchase agreement (PPA).

The PPA has been structured with Renewable Energy Guarantees of Origin (REGOs) from British windfarms.

“The corporate PPA market has long been touted as a means for larger organisations to procure renewable power and enable subsidy-free development,” TEC’s managing director Richard Murphy said. “But to date, it has largely been the preserve of very large companies, requiring substantial commitments from buyers.

“By acting together in a collaborative approach facilitated by the energy expertise here at TEC, these institutions, whether large or small, have been able to navigate a previously inaccessible market. It allows members to protect budget, they know what they are going to pay for power over the term, but it also provides flexibility – because they are not committing 100% of annual baseload volume to the agreement.”

The fixed-price contract means that the universities won’t be subjected to price volatility for green certificates and REGOs. As sustainability rises up the corporate agenda, so too has demand for green power. Overall, REGO prices have risen by 400% in the last three years and can be traded across Europe with prices varying significantly according to local demand and supply.

The energy will be supplied by TEC’s current and future energy partners, namely EDF Energy, Norwegian energy giant Statkraft and renewables supplier Squeaky Clean Energy.

Higher efforts

The deal was signed just one week after the EAUC, the Higher Education Business Community Network (HEBCoN) and engineering giant AECOM launched new guidance aimed at helping universities and colleges mitigate and adapt to climate change.

A new educational charity aiming to engage more students with sustainability – both in regard to their lifestyles and their academic work – was also launched last week.

Supported by the National Union of Students (NUS) and called Students Organising for Sustainability (SOS), the organisation will take responsibility for the delivery of NUS’s existing green campaigns, including Student Switch Off and Divest-Invest.

Last year, The Vice Chancellors of five UK universities have signed the Government’s Emissions Reduction Pledge in a bid to help accelerate the nation’s transition towards a net-zero carbon economy. The Vice Chancellors of the University of Reading, University of Winchester, University of Nottingham, Newcastle University and Northumbria University have committed to reducing carbon emissions from their respective organisations by 30% by 2020/2021.

The University of Cambridge became the first higher education institution in the world to set science-based targets in line with the Paris Agreement’s more ambitious 1.5C trajectory in July 2019.

edie Explains: Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs)

What are Corporate Power Purchase Agreements (CPPAs) in the context of renewable energy? Which organisations are most suited to adopting CPPAs, and what are the business benefits of doing so?

This free-to-download edie Explains guide, produced in association with Ørsted, helps sustainability and energy professionals understand exactly how they can adopt a CPPA for their businesses; what the benefits are; what the key considerations should be when doing so.

The guide includes an industry viewpoint provided by Ørsted, and a CPPA case study focused on a partnership between the Danish energy giant and Northumbrian Water.

Matt Mace

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