University plans to build solar park as part of commitment to reduce greenhouse gas emissions

The solar park will be built on farmland five miles southwest of the city

Cambridge University plans to reduce its carbon footprint by building a solar park in South Cambridgeshire which, at full capacity, will be able to provide for up to 19 per cent of the University’s electricity needs. 

According to Cambridgeshire Live, the planning application for the park will be submitted at some point this year, with college leaders having initiated the plans last summer as a result of growing calls for more responsible energy consumption across the University. 

Planning agents Carter Jonas, who wrote to the South Cambridgeshire District Council on behalf of the University, described the aims of the solar farm as being to provide “a clean, renewable electricity supply to the University of Cambridge”.

If the plan is approved, the electricity generated by the farm will be supplied via a private wire connection to the West Cambridge site and consumed by the buildings there.

According to the Cambridge University Reporter, if planning permission is granted, the University will issue an invitation to tender to the solar industry for the construction of the farm. It hopes that this will “increase competition from solar farm companies for the opportunity to construct, and potentially operate, the farm”.

The plan is in line with the University’s commitment to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions to zero by 2038. It has also committed to divesting from all direct and indirect investments in the fossil fuel industry by 2030.

The University pioneers a number of schemes to research climate solutions and develop renewable energy, ranging from the Green Impact environmental accreditation scheme to the Energy and Carbon Reduction Project

At the end of April, the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership (CISL) also announced a three-year partnership with Chanel to “raise awareness and deepen knowledge on diverse topics”, such as biodiversity and climate change, and to “advance Chanel’s sustainable transformation policy”.

However, some Cambridge colleges continue to come under fire from activist groups, such as Extinction Rebellion Cambridge and Extinction Rebellion Youth Cambridge, for refusing to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Both groups launched their No More Excuses campaign to lobby for divestment last year and continue to target colleges with direct action measures.

Feature Image: Keith Edkins via (Creative Commons Licence)

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