15 Jun 2024

Funding the switch to net zero

Coventry University's Frank Whittle Building

Coventry University has announced it has been awarded a grant of almost £13million to help hit its target of being net zero by 2030. 

The University says the grant from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which is funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, and delivered by Salix Finance, will help towards the cost of installing around 1,300 new solar panels and connecting nine Coventry University buildings to the city’s district energy network. It is hoped the proposals could reduce the Group’s carbon emissions by more than 1,300 tonnes per year – more than a fifth of its annual carbon emissions arising from the use of fossil fuels.

These works are a major part of the carbon reduction actions outlined in a strategy jointly developed over the past year with consultants Turner & Townsend.

The district energy network is a 6.6km underground heat system that transports waste heat from the city’s municipal incinerator to supply energy to major public buildings and in doing so has only one sixth of the carbon emissions of natural gas.

The buildings that will connect to the network are:  TheHub, Alma building, Cycle Works, Elm Bank, Sir Frank Whittle, Student Centre, Charles Ward, George Eliot and Priory building.

Approximately 1,300 new solar panels will be installed at the Alma building, Cycle Works, TheHub, Sir Frank Whittle building and Elm Bank, with the latter also having new energy efficient windows installed. All the works are expected to be completed by March 2026 and will help the university to avoid grid electricity costs of more than £100,000 per year and generate zero carbon electricity for internal consumption.

Professor John Latham CBE, Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, said: “For many years Coventry University has been taking positive strides towards our target of net zero and this grant from the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme will help us with the next steps along that road.

“Sustainable development and social responsibility are central to what we stand for and we are working to speed up society’s journey to net zero and clean growth through our excellent research and education. While we are rightly proud of the work and research we do to help tackle those issues nationally and internationally, being able to make a difference on our own campus is just as important.”

Ian Rodger, Salix Director of Programmes, said: “We have a challenging journey to meet our net zero targets, and at Salix we’re privileged to work with organisations like Coventry University on this important mission.

“This funding from government under the Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme is pivotal in enabling organisations across the country to decarbonise their estates. Every day at Salix we are working to make our buildings, our environments and our communities healthier places to work and live in.

“Our team at Salix looks forward to working closely with Coventry University to help them meet their net zero target.”

John Bailey, associate director for sustainability at Turner & Townsend, said: “We are absolutely delighted for Coventry University receiving this funding. It has been a pleasure supporting them in their ambitious plans to net zero.”

The university says its continued efforts to achieve net zero were recently recognised by the 2nd edition of the QS World University Rankings: Sustainability, placing the Group inside the top 250 universities in the world, and also saw it ranked as a Gold Tier University in the Uswitch Green University Report 2023. The recently published People & Planet University League Table, which assesses the environmental and ethical performance of UK universities, saw Coventry University retain its first class award.

The university says it is also helping society shift to net zero through its impactful research into green battery technology, hydrogen fuel and future transport. Its commitment to tackling climate change is showcased through a number of projects, including the Clean Futures programme, which is supporting small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop new technology for green transportation in the UK, the relaunch of the Institute for Advanced Manufacturing and Engineering (AME), which is playing a critical step in the transition to electric transport manufacturing through innovative teaching and research, and upskilling JLR workers for the world of electric vehicles

Company info: Coventry University