Lincoln has become the first New Zealand university to adopt commercial scale solar energy as it unveils plans to eliminate coal by 2025.
The university has partnered with Meridian Energy to install a 102-kWh solar array, the largest to be installed at a New Zealand University. The array will supply renewable energy direct to the university’s network, with Meridian planning additional arrays as part of Lincoln’s $8 million investment into renewable energy.
Lincoln University Acting Vice-Chancellor Professor Bruce McKenzie says eliminating coal is important to Lincoln, given its role as a land-based university with a strong sustainability ethic. Half the university’s energy needs are currently met by an on-site coal boiler.
“The solar array, which is installed on the roof of our Te Kete Ika Dining Hall, is part of a wider campus project that will help us achieve best practice sustainability outcomes and cease the use of coal by 2025, with a focus on diversifying energy systems,” Professor McKenzie says.
“We have a responsibility to ensure that future generations are given the opportunity to grow and thrive. This means using our resources sustainably and partnering with energy and utility experts to move away from fossil fuels, improve our energy performance and achieve carbon neutrality by 2030.”
As part of Meridian’s Power Purchase Agreement (PPA), all the work and costs associated with installation, operation and maintenance are covered by Meridian. Meridian Energy's Emerging Markets and Innovation Lead, Tim Calder says Lincoln is sending a powerful message by converting its industrial heat requirements from coal to electricity.
“Industrial heat generates around 15% of New Zealand’s carbon emissions and is regarded as the most challenging process to convert due to the high cost of alternatives.
“Commercial solar is now a viable solution and partnering with Meridian makes it easy to harness renewable energy without upfront capital costs or ongoing maintenance,” Mr Calder says.
A growing number of businesses have signed up for commercial solar Power Purchase Agreements since Meridian began offering them to market.
“There’s a groundswell of interest out there in commercial solar. People are excited about the technology and we’re looking forward to it playing a much bigger role in our renewable generation mix,” Mr Calder says.
The array was officially switched on at Lincoln University today by Selwyn MP, Hon Amy Adams.
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