1 November 2016

UQ has been praised in national report card on clean-energy usage across Australian university campuses.UQ expects to produce 5.93 MW of clean solar energy by the end of 2016.

The Clean Energy Finance Corporation has released its Clean Energy Opportunities for Universities report, which explores how Australian universities can implement various clean energy technologies to reduce their energy usage.

According to the report, released this month, UQ currently has about 80 per cent, or 5.64 MW, of the 7 MW total solar for the university sector in Australia — more than 10 times any other Australian university.

The report examined carbon emissions reporting, university energy and greenhouse gas reduction targets and university sector debt borrowings.

It found further compelling reasons for universities to increase their uptake of clean energy technologies and to consider the use of tailored debt finance to support these initiatives.

The university energy sector, the report noted, experienced about 80 per cent growth in the decade 1999–2009.

Without efforts to reduce energy use, the authors cautioned, total consumption was projected to increase an additional 50 per cent by 2020.

The report also found that buildings account for $28 billion, or 65 per cent, of the fixed assets of universities.

Improving the energy performance of these primary assets could significantly reduce university operating costs.

Cost-effective technologies such as energy efficient lighting, air conditioning systems and more efficient refrigeration have a proven track record in reducing energy use. These technologies could also help reduce asset maintenance costs and backlogs they said.

Other technologies, such as voltage optimisation, integrated battery storage and microgrids, electric vehicles, solar thermal and micro-wind turbines can also serve as demonstration and research projects for universities.

The CEFC estimates that Australia's universities have installed more than 7 MW of solar PV, including The University of Queensland's 3.275 MW Gatton Solar Research Facility.

CEFC university sector lead Melanie Madders said there was significant potential for further adoption of solar technology.

"Many universities have plenty of roof space that would be suitable for the installation of solar PV," she said.

"Much of this technology is now cost-competitive with grid-supplied electricity."

By the end of 2016, UQ’s total solar capacity is expected to reach 5.93 MW.

Read the full report online here.

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