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Develop alternative sources of heat and power

Although 100% of our purchased electricity comes from renewable sources already, we have a responsibility to utilise our land on campus to generate as much low-cost renewable energy as we can ourselves. We will also be accessing thermal energy beneath our feet for a low carbon heat supply for our heat network. While our combined heat and power (CHP) engines were the low-carbon option when they were installed, technology has moved on, and we want to make sure that we’re doing everything we can to generate and use clean energy on our campus.

In August 2023 the gas-fired CHP engines in the Main Energy Centre were de-prioritised, and it is expected that this will provide a saving of circa 2,500 tonnes of annual scope 1 carbon emissions, equivalent to a petrol car driving around the earth more than 400 times.

Case Study 1: Ground source heat boreholes

We have two priority projects related to heat supply decarbonisation on campus. You may have seen two big drills on campus at Kirby Corner and at Cryfield, opposite the Sports Hub - which are being used to create two 350-metre-deep boreholes. These tests are helping us work out the best way to access thermal energy in the ground and how much we can sustainably use.

The boreholes are 20m deeper than the height of the Eiffel Tower.

The first project is a new sustainable heat energy centre for our STEM Connect, Social Sciences Connect and EIC projects, and is located at Kirby Corner (below). The project represents a turning point for the University as it will be the first time we’ve been able to decouple campus growth from increases in onsite fossil fuel combustion.

Kirby Corner Rig

The second project at Cryfield (below) is for a high temperature heat pump that can deliver heat directly into our existing network, building on the infrastructure assets we already have and simultaneously reducing the emissions of all connected buildings.

Cryfield Rig


We expect to have results from these two sites in May 2024. The tests will show if an open loop ground source heat pumps system is possible on the University’s campus. If feasible, an open loop heat pump system will pump water from an aquifer beneath the campus, and using a heat pump at ground level, transfer the heat to the campus heat network before the water is pumped back into the ground.

Case Study 2: Solar PV

We have over 5,500 solar panels on rooftops around campus that, at peak output, can generate around 1MW of electricity, and a further 0.5 MW (peak capacity) underway.

MW stands for Megawatt – this is equivalent to 1,000,000 Watts. The peak output of a 1MW PV system is enough power to light around 25,000 of these 40W LED lights that are seen in many locations around campus.

Solar panels harness the sun’s energy and transform this into electricity. You will find them on top of a variety of buildings on campus. On the Sports and Wellness Hub, there is122kW of peak capacity installed (around 390 panels)capable of producing around100,000 kWh of electrical energy a year. Daily output is highly dependent on the sunshine available, but this amount of energy could power an electric car for over 500,000km!

Check out the images below which were taken by a drone. This shows what the Solar PV looks like and some of its locations on campus.

Sports and Wellness Hub
WBS and Ramphal

(Drone images taken by installer, Aztec)

Case Study 3: Electrification of the University of Warwick Fleet

Since 2012, the University of Warwick has been deploying Electric Vehicles as part of its fleet. Over time, the mix of fleet vehicles which are fully electric has increased - see chart below. Currently 66% of the University's 122 fleet vehicles are all electric. Since launching our electric fleet vehicle strategy in 2017, our aim is to transition all vehicles to 100% electric as more vehicle types become available as all electric over time.

These vehicles are used for a huge variety of operations and services, including:

Due to the electrification of the fleet over time, the amount of diesel and petrol we are using and the associated Scope 1 carbon emissions have dramatically reduced (see graph below). Although the scope 1 emissions from our fleet only represent a very small proportion of our total emissions, this is a positive step forward. Switching vehicles to electric improves local air quality, as petrol and diesel vehicles release pollutants into the air which can impact human health and affect environmental quality. By replacing these vehicles with electric, we can reduce these negative impacts.