Aberystwyth University proposal to invest £2.5m in harnessing solar power

Artist’s impression of the Aberystwyth University solar development, looking East.

Artist’s impression of the Aberystwyth University solar development, looking East.

22 March 2021

Aberystwyth University is taking a significant step towards its ambitious goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2030, with the announcement of plans for a major renewable energy project.

The University will shortly be seeking planning permission to install state of the art solar panels at a site adjacent to its Fferm Penglais student accommodation.

Once operational, the photovoltaic solar panels will generate approximately 25% 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 550 tonnes per year.

The 4 hectare facility, which will be situated on land already owned by the University, will cost just under £2.5m and will generate annual energy savings in excess of £300k per year. Over the lifetime of the panels, the University is expected to save almost £18m in electricity costs.

Professor Neil Glasser, Aberystwyth University Pro-Vice Chancellor with responsibility for Environment and Sustainability, explains: “The University’s new Sustainability Policy demonstrates our commitment to carrying out our activities in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way.  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.”

“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 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.”