Keele University’s new Low Carbon Energy Generation park. Image: Keele University.

Keele University has officially opened its new Low Carbon Energy Generation park, including 12,500 solar panels as well as two wind turbines.

The site, which was announced in 2020, also includes battery energy storage and is able to meet 50% of the university’s electricity demand.

EQUANS built the low carbon park, including the 4.4MW solar array, which is linked to a Smart Energy Network Demonstrator (SEND). This is a state-of-the-art real-time energy management system developed by SIEMENS UK, which optimises generation, distribution, demand and storage across the campus.

SEND provides the university with a “living laboratory” Keele said, allowing smart energy technologies to be tested and research and innovation projects exploring sustainable supply chains to be run.

Professor Mark Ormerod, deputy vice-chancellor and provost at Keele University, and the University’s lead for sustainability, said it was fantastic to have the low carbon generation on campus, which will provide in excess of its requirements over the summer, with surplus exported to the local community.

“This outstanding facility has been developed through a tremendous partnership with EQUANS. The direct integration with significant battery storage capability with Europe’s largest Smart Energy Network Demonstrator is particularly exciting and will result in significantly increased energy efficiency on campus.”

The park was officially opened this week by Keele’s outgoing chancellor Sir Jonathan Porritt, professor Zoe Robinson, director of Keele’s Institute for Sustainable Futures, and Chris Langdon from EQUANS.  

It is the latest in a number of solar installations at Keele University, with it adopting solar for three of its halls of residence back in 2013. The university is targeting being carbon neutral by 2030.

“The park is a fantastic visual symbol of our long-standing institutional commitment to sustainability over many years, which has seen Keele develop an international reputation and profile in this area, and being awarded Global Sustainability Institution of the Year in 2021,” added professor Ormerod.