Oxford Brookes continues push to Net Zero with new solar panel installations

Solar panels at Oxford Brookes University
New solar panels located on the roof of the Clerici building on Headington Campus.

Oxford Brookes University is continuing to make strides in its decarbonisation journey with the installation of additional solar panels that will reduce carbon emissions by around 55 tonnes each year.

The solar panels have been installed at three separate locations, including at two student halls of residence, and will provide up to 18% of the overall electricity used in the buildings.

They are located on the rooftops of Paul Kent Hall in Cowley, and the Clive Booth Student Village in Headington, as well as the Clerici building on Headington Campus which includes teaching rooms, a lecture theatre, a cafe, and Oxford Brookes Business School. The panels will reduce grid sourced electricity costs by around £70,000 per year at current electricity supply rates.

The University received the funding to install the solar panels from Salix Finance, a public body sponsored by the Department for Energy Security and Net Zero, that helps public sector organisations in their push towards net zero.

The new solar panels take up about 1,400m2 of roof space across the three locations and will generate approximately 260,000kWh of solar derived electricity per year. This is equivalent to the amount of electricity used in a year by approximately 21 average-sized homes.

The new panels complement the existing solar panels already installed across the university estate.  Combined, the University now generates up to 750,000kWh of electricity annually from its on-site solar panels, contributing around 6% of the University’s total electricity needs. 

Oxford Brookes has a longstanding commitment to sustainability, and joined with organisations across the globe by declaring a climate emergency in October 2021. The University launched a carbon reduction strategy which aims to achieve net zero emissions by 2040, ten years ahead of the national target. 

Ahead of its projected timeline, the University has already achieved its goal of reducing carbon emissions by 35% by 2025. The next objective is to further reduce carbon emissions from buildings, operations and purchased electricity by 68% by 2030. 

Professor Joe Tah, Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Technology, Design and Environment, and lead for Major Projects and Sustainability within the Vice-Chancellor’s Group, said: “We are delighted to continue our commitment to Net Zero and renewable energy with the installation of these solar panels at our Headington campus and at student accommodation buildings. 

“This follows extensive work already undertaken by the University to lower our carbon emissions, like becoming the first UK university, in July 2022, to complete the installation of a state-of-the-art Geo-Exchange Heating System, which replaces the need for fossil fuels on campus.”

Since 2009, Salix Finance’s Recycling Fund has enabled Oxford Brookes to deliver 30 energy efficiency projects including the installation of LED lighting, insulation, solar panels and an automated computer power management system to monitor and control energy usage

Meabh Poultney, Client Support Officer at Salix Finance, said: “This has been an incredible project to have worked on. It’s been a pleasure working with the University to help them along their journey to de-carbonisation through implementing these vital energy efficiency works.
“Whilst the Recycling Fund is closing for England projects, these sites will continue to benefit from this work for years to come and we wish Oxford Brookes all the best with these initiatives.”

More information on Oxford Brookes’ sustainability work can be read in the latest Sustainability Report