Coventry Uni Frank Whittle Building
Coventry University awarded a UK government grant to install solar panels on buildings like the Frank Whittle Building. Image: Coventry University

Coventry University has announced it has been awarded £13 million of grant funding from the government’s Public Sector Decarbonisation Scheme, which will go towards installing solar panels.

The scheme, funded by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and delivered by Salix Finance Limited, will help towards the cost of installing around 1,300 new solar panels at the University.

The solar panels will be installed at the Alma building, Cycle Works, TheHub, Sir Frank Whittle building and Elm Bank, with the latter also having new energy-efficient windows installed.

This grant is also expected to cover the expenses associated with connecting nine separate Coventry University buildings to the district energy network.

The district energy network is a 6.6km underground heat system that transports waste heat from the city’s municipal incinerator to supply energy to major public buildings and, in doing so, has only one-sixth of the carbon emissions of natural gas.

All construction is due to be completed in March 2026 and, once fully operational, is estimated to avoid grid electricity costs of more than £100,000 per year and generate zero-carbon electricity for internal consumption.

John Latham, vice-chancellor of Coventry University, said: “We are working to speed up society’s journey to net zero and clean growth through our excellent research and education. While we are rightly proud of the work and research we do to help tackle those issues nationally and internationally, being able to make a difference on our own campus is just as important.”

A county for solar

Across the region, Coventry has seen several successful solar projects bringing renewable energy to public buildings.

This includes the installation of new solar panels at the Hospital of St Cross in Rugby by the University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire NHS Trust after being allocated funding from a UK government £230 million package in October 2023.

A month prior, in September 2023, the Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council (NBBC) unanimously approved planning proposals for a 25MWp solar farm northeast of Coventry.

The Tolldish Hall Solar Farm plans were submitted by renewable technology operator Innova Renewables, which is currently developing a combined solar and energy storage capacity portfolio of 23GW.

The same month saw discussions between Coventry City Council and E.ON to include the development of a solar farm as part of their upcoming partnership.

The plan included the creation of a 30MW solar farm and bringing solar power to a number of schools, as well as integrating solar across several public buildings alongside electric vehicle (EV) charging infrastructure.