Clean energy: 20 universities strike ‘landmark’ £50m deal

The deal secures electricity at a competitive market rate for the next 10 years

Twenty universities have struck a ‘landmark’ renewable energy deal worth £50m.

The deal – which includes the universities of Newcastle, Anglia Ruskin, Exeter and Aberystwyth – fixes electricity prices at a competitive rate for the next decade.

The ‘power purchase agreement’ (PPA) marks the first time universities have come together to buy clean electricity.

These institutions, whether large or small, have been able to navigate a previously inaccessible market
– Richard Murphy, The Energy Consortium

The deal was arranged by The Energy Consortium (TEC), a body that procures energy for the public sector, and Squeaky Clean Energy, a platform that deals directly with UK-based solar, wind and hydro-generators.

The deal is significant because PPAs were “once the exclusive domain of large corporates”, a spokesperson for Squeaky Clean Energy said.

“PPAs are difficult to negotiate because they rely on an army of lawyers,” Chris Bowden, managing director of Squeaky Clean Energy, told University Business. “The deal means renewable energy providers can compete with fossil fuel companies head-on,” he added.

For the next 10 years, Norwegian-based Statkraft, Europe’s largest producer of renewable energy, will deliver electricity generated at UK wind stations to the universities, many of which have announced ambitious carbon targets.

Earlier this year, Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) announced plans to be carbon neutral by 2030.

James Rolfe, chief operating officer at ARU, said: “To support this commitment we aim to source all of our electricity from zero-carbon sources by 2025, and this power purchase agreement makes a significant contribution towards this goal whilst delivering financial savings and budget stability.

Read more: Vice-chancellors back mass staff walkout over climate crisis

Richard Murphy, managing director of TEC, said the deal was a “landmark” for the sector.

“By acting together in a collaborative approach facilitated by the energy expertise here at TEC, these institutions, whether large or small, have been able to navigate a previously inaccessible market,” Murphy said.

PPAs usually prove difficult to organise because of the complexity of energy contracts, but Squeaky Clean Energy produced a simple, standardised 15-page agreement that by-passed the need for large in-house legal teams. The deal also makes it easier for universities to audit their progress on carbon emissions because the energy can be traced back to its source.

Header image credit: Flickr

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