The sun rises on a sustainable new venture at Cranfield Uni

Work has begun to install a solar panel farm at the Bedfordshire institution, to help achieve its carbon-saving target

The installation of a new field of solar panels at Cranfield University is underway. Funded by the University, the photovoltaic (PV) panels will generate 5% of the annual electricity at the campus, and also provide a new renewable energy research facility for student use.

Feargal Brennan, Cranfield’s Director of Energy and Power, said: “Cranfield has a reputation for providing students with the opportunity to use industrial-scale facilities for education and training support. The solar farm will not only provide a new facility which can be used by students, but also a sustainable, reliable and affordable energy supply to the campus.”

Installed by RenEnergy, the PV panels will be sited on the eastern side of the airport, covering a two hectare field. A total of 3,508 solar panels will be fitted, covering a 5,858 sqm generator surface area. They should produce one million KWh per year of power, approximately the equivalent of the energy consumed by 300 houses over the same period. 

“We have made significant reductions in carbon emissions in recent years and are well on our way to achieving our target of a 50% reduction by 2020 against our 2005 figures.”

Damian Baker, MD of RenEnergy, said: “We are delighted to have been appointed as the solar PV contractor for such a prestigious institution. RenEnergy has been involved with renewable energy in the UK since 2003, witnessing its steady growth as government and business familiarise themselves with the technology. 

“Solar integrates well into the existing infrastructure to provide a clean, cost-effective long-term power solution, as is the case at Cranfield, where our solar array will interact with the combined heat and power (CHP) plant onsite to provide energy without exporting to the grid.” 

Gareth Ellis, Energy & Environment Manager at Cranfield, said: “The University is committed to renewable energy and the installation of the PV panels will improve our carbon footprint.  

“Cranfield already has a CHP on site producing 60% of its electricity. We have made significant reductions in carbon emissions in recent years and are well on our way to achieving our target of a 50% reduction by 2020 against our 2005 figures.”

The University has also recently been re-certified to ISO14001 – an internationally recognised standard – for the next three years, for its environmental management system following an audit by BSI (British Standards Institute).