The new solar farm will increase the percentage of on-site generation to 20%. Image: the University of Surrey.

The University of Surrey has teamed up with SSE Energy Solutions to develop a new 5MWp on-site solar facility.

The array will boost the university's percentage of power derived from on-site generation to 20%, helping to move the establishment towards its 2030 net zero target.

The university is also looking at pathways to decarbonise heat on campus and has applied to the UK Government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme to help fund this.

In addition to the development of the solar farm, the University of Surrey and SSE Energy Solutions will work together to develop a new PhD along with other studentship opportunities, to jointly apply for grant funding and to collaborate on delivering on-site demonstrator projects.

A number of universities in the UK have installed solar panels in an effort to reduce their emissions, including Aberystwyth University – which received approval for a £2.9 million solar array in November 2021 – and the University of Edinburgh.

Others like Keele University are looking to enter into power purchase agreements with renewables owners to increase the share of clean energy on campus.

The agreement follows SSE acquiring its first solar farm in January when it took on the development rights for a 30MW solar farm at Littleton Pastures from Stark Energy. The company hailed it as a “significant milestone” on the way to amassing a portfolio of over 1GW of solar and battery technology.

“This is a partnership we are very proud of as we are keen to help do all we can to decarbonise the university sector,” said Nathan Sanders, managing director of SSE Energy Solutions (Distributed Energy).

“We intend to provide the University of Surrey with a more resilient and sustainable energy system and with our ‘whole system approach’ we are looking at a cross-campus range of other energy solutions including how we might also help decarbonise their heat to cut both carbon and cost.”