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Power plants on campus

We have 3 power plants on campus and a 23km+ network of tubes underground. Together these provide efficiently-generated electricity and hot water to most of our buildings.

It’s been so successful that the Government is using it as a case study in its efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.

But what is it, and how does it work?

Generating power: CHP

Our three plants are all Combined Heating and Power (CHP) plants. That means that they produce electricity and capture the heat that a normal power plant would waste during the process, . we use it to generate hot water.

The three CHP plants are connected to a 23km long network of insulated pipes that carry hot water to our buildings – our “District Heating System”. To get a sense of scale, 23km is about the distance from Central Campus to Wellesbourne.

Since 2001 we’ve invested millions in our CHP plants and District Heating System so that they now provide for the needs of over 150 buildings on campus. We’ve also installed thermal storage units which keep hold of any excess hot water generated at off-peak times until its needed later in the day, providing us with a massive efficiency boost.

Our energy infrastructure helps save reducing primary energy consumption by 13%.

How a CHP plant works

How our system has developed over time

400kW CHP installed on Gibbet Hill Campus.
14 existing heating systems converted from high pressure to low pressure hot water.
Two 1.35MW units installed to provide heating, electricity and air conditioning.
1.35MW CHP unit installed to supply heat and electricity to Central Campus.
Installation of two hot water buffer-vessels to save excess hot water for peak times.
Efficiency-enhancing software installed to control CHP running hours and stroage.
1960s Boilerhouse redeveloped to improve heat recovery.
Cryfield Energy Centre completed boosting campus CHP capacity.
Lowest-recorded levels of CO2 emitted on campus - CHP is working.
We are developing the future generation of the heat network to transition to low carbon energy and meet the university net-zero carbon emissions targets

Benefits beyond energy efficiency

  • Education; Our staff and students use it as part of their research such as members of the Energy GRP and to raise awareness on the importance of energy systems.
  • Resilience; It keeps working even if the rest of the local area is experiencing problems.
  • Capital costs; sharing assets across the campus allow each building plant room to be simpler freeing space for important teaching and research activities.
  • Future proofing; future low carbon energy systems will be more complex. We will be able to adapt our energy centres more easily than adapting individual plant rooms across the campus.