English university prepares to bond with wind power

In a time of great unrest at British universities over tuition increases and programme cutbacks, it’s gratifying to note that at least one respected post-secondary institution is turning to wind energy to lessen its carbon footprint.

According to its website, the University of Nottingham has recently unveiled plans for three wind turbines near Clifton Bridge on the River Trent which, if approved, would supply green electricity directly to its University Park campus.

The wind turbines, which would meet one-third of the electricity needs of the campus, could reduce the university’s carbon emissions by 7,000 tonnes per year, equating to 40% of the reductions target it has set itself by 2015.

Impact, the university’s student magazine, published a story on Monday saying that the turbines could generate enough “green” electricity to power 5,000 houses.

The story also said installation of the wind turbines could begin next year with construction taking approximately six months to complete.

It added that plans to install the wind turbines are part of the university’s wider plan to reduce its carbon footprint and fight climate change.

Describing itself as “one of the world’s leading research and teaching institutions,” the university has five main UK-based campuses, as well as campuses in Malaysia and China. It has a staff of over 7,400 and a student population in excess of 37,000.

The Impact story noted that in June, the university ranked low in the “People and Planet Green League 2010”, which scores universities according to how environmentally-friendly their facilities are. Nottingham ranked 53rd out of 133 universities nation-wide.

On 5 January, the university announced it has been recognised for its green credentials, taking second place in a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions.

“Nottingham was narrowly beaten into second place of the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking by the University of California in Berkeley, but topped the list of participating universities in Europe and was the only UK institution in the top 10 of the table,” a university press release said.

Professor Alan Dodson, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Infrastructure and Environment at Nottingham, said the survey recognises the institution’s approach to sustainability.

“This international recognition will I hope be a stimulus for further improvement in the coming years,” Dodson was quoted as saying. “Our plans to provide substantial electricity generation through our own wind turbines will, if agreed, provide another significant step forward.” The survey attracted submissions from more than 90 universities from 35 countries.

By Chris Rose, blog.ewea.org/