Aberystwyth University in Wales has announced plans to invest £2.5 million in a 10ac solar farm as part of its ambitious bid to become carbon neutral by 2030.

The university will shortly be seeking planning permission to install solar panels at a site adjacent to its Fferm Penglais student accommodation.

Once operational, the photovoltaic (PV) solar panels will generate around one quarter of the annual electricity requirements of Penglais Campus – equivalent to the energy used by over 500 homes. In doing so, it will generate carbon savings of 550t/year.

The 10ac facility, which will be situated on land already owned by the university, will cost just under £2.5 million and will generate annual energy savings in excess of £300,000/year.

Over the lifetime of the panels, the university is expected to save almost £18 million in electricity costs.

Prof. Neil Glasser, Aberystwyth University pro-vice-chancellor with responsibility for environment and sustainability, said he hoped work on the solar farm could begin in the autumn.

“The university’s new Sustainability Policy demonstrates our commitment to carrying out our activities in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way," he said.

"The proposal to harness solar power is just one part of our efforts to minimise our energy usage, improving our efficiency, and supporting our pledge to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.

Investigations and studies

“The solar power project is the culmination of a detailed investigation of possible renewable energy opportunities, including a previous feasibility study into generating wind energy from wind turbines.

"This project is the most ambitious of the many decarbonisation projects that the university is working on, and makes both environmental and business sense. Subject to planning permission being granted, we hope to progress with the installation of the solar panels from autumn this year.”

The project has received technical and commercial support from the Welsh Government Energy Service, with guidance provided on site selection, a screening assessment, financial modelling and ongoing assistance being provided to the project team.

Brian Drysdale, development manager for the Welsh Government Energy Service, said: “This project is a great example of a university developing renewable energy generation and making better use of their available assets.

"Aberystwyth University is leading by example in developing this site, and adds to an existing energy efficiency programme of works currently underway on campus.”