The University of Southern Queensland has become the latest of Australia’s tertiary institutions to embrace renewable energy, announcing plans to add nearly 2MW of rooftop solar and battery storage across its Toowoomba, Springfield and Ipswich campuses.
USQ said last week it would install more than 4000 solar panels on the Toowoomba campus’ largest carpark, as part one of a three-stage Sustainable Energy Solution aimed at slashing the University’s electricity costs and emissions.
Stage one of the $6 million renewables rollout, which will produce a combined total of 1.9MW of solar electricity, will also see roof mounted PV and battery storage systems installed across the University’s Toowoomba campus buildings.
Once completed, the University expects to reduce its electricity costs, cut its daytime grid power consumption and cut its carbon emissions by around 20 per cent.
According to USQ vice-chancellor and president Professor Jan Thomas, purchased electricity accounting for as much as 88 per cent of the University’s emissions.
Thomas said site works would begin on the car park next week while subsequent stages in 2017 would involve install rooftop solar on several USQ buildings at the Toowoomba, Springfield and Ipswich campuses.
“With an increasing demand for electricity it’s important to consider how USQ can continue to undertake and expand its current operations without growing its dependency on traditional electricity supplies,” Prof Thomas said.
“Not only will the solar solution deliver a measurable reduction in energy related costs for the University but it will also provide a significant platform for research, learning and teaching with students and staff able to study the proficiencies of the renewable energy network against load variations and supply demands,” she said.
Several other universities around Australia have also installed – or are planning to – solar, including the University of Melbourne, which launched a tender in April to install 1.8MW of rooftop solar across its Victorian campuses.
Also in April, the University of New England in NSW announced plans to source up to half of its electricity from solar, through the installation of a solar PV farm on land adjacent to the Armidale campus. The $6.6 million, 10,000-panel project is being funded by the university and expected to be operational by the first quarter of 2018.
“Building and construction projects will demand more efficient use of resources and energy supplies and this project is another way USQ will be able to provide its graduates with skills and knowledge that they can take into industry,” USQ’s Prof Thomas said.
“As a socially and environmentally responsible organisation at USQ we’re actively investing in a clean energy future.”